Carrie Mae Weems: “From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried” and “House/Field/Yard/Kitchen”
Published: April 6, 2011
What struck me at first was how proud and regal-looking the African woman is, and then her cousins, sisters, what have you—the distant family that come here, they look in limbo. They’re bored. They’re upset that they’re not really allowed to show all of their anger, I guess. They’re sad, they’re very sad. Their dreams haven’t been realized. They’re just sort of stuck in time—and they’re anonymous: house, field, yard, kitchen.
And she’s so free—she’s walking around nude. And these women are confined to European clothes and American repression. The fact that they’re done in red, for me, shows turmoil, shows anger. The red signifies the anger that they’re not allowed to express. [Reading the text from the photos] “From here I saw what happened . . . and I cried.”
For a lot of people back in that time, coming to America was a dream realized—you know, people in distant lands would come here and supposedly have their dreams realized. Whereas African women were forced here and put under hard labor—“. . . and I cried.” It makes me upset. It makes me really upset that these women have to be so anonymous. They probably had so much to say. They experienced so much. And that’s a really hard life. So you go from the really regal African woman, and in America she’s reduced to pure utility.
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