For over three decades, through image, text, film, and video, artist Carrie Mae Weems has created an impactful body of work that interrogates race, gender, class, politics, and power. Weems, a Prix de Rome and MacArthur Fellowship winner, asks salient relevant questions and examines our collective past.
When & Where I Enter, The British Museum is part of Weems’ Museums series, in which the artist uses her body and buildings as an index of biased histories of past and present. Through self-portraiture, Weems addresses the complexities of race and gender, bearing witness to systemic social injustice and inequity that are the basis for museum decolonization activism.
Standing regally before the Museum entrance cloaked in an ethereal black dress with a swath of blurred, white tourists between them, she embodies the exclusion of Blackness. The ambiguity and anonymity of her body viewed from the back is symbolic of the inherent implications of predominantly white institutions like the British Museum that see her as an outlier and her work as other. The use of “I” in the title is decidedly a “We” encompassing the whole of the African Diaspora. When & Where I Enter, The British Museum depicts a nuanced narrative asking us to rethink who wields ultimate power over how individuals and their identities are depicted in museums.