Carrie Mae Weems & David Alan Grier: In Conversation


Carrie Mae Weems and David Alan Grier have an intimate discussion on a range of topics including childhood idols, the definition of blackness, race and politics during Obama’s presidency, and a desire to make work that addresses not only personal identity but also the broader human condition.

With the pitch and timbre of an accomplished storyteller, Carrie Mae Weems uses colloquial forms-jokes, songs, rebukes-in photographic series that scrutinize subjectivity and expose pernicious stereotypes. Weems’s vibrant explorations of photography, video, and verse breathe new life into traditional narrative forms-social documentary, tableaux, self-portrait, and oral history. Eliciting epic contexts from individually framed moments, Weems debunks racist and sexist labels, examines the relationship between power and aesthetics, and uses personal biography to articulate broader truths. Whether adapting or appropriating archival images, restaging famous news photographs, or creating altogether new scenes, she traces an indirect history of the depiction of African Americans for more than a century. Carrie Mae Weems is featured in the Season 5 (2009) episode Compassion of the Art in the Twenty-First Century television series on PBS. Download-to-own the full episode from iTunes.

David Alan Grier started his career in New York, on Broadway in the production of “The First” playing the role of Jackie Robinson for which he was nominated for a Tony Award. Grier has appeared in many productions on the New York stage, including “Soldiers Play”, and Shakespeare In The Park. On Broadway he has been seen in “Dream Girls”, “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum”, and starred in “Race”, written and directed by David Mamet, for which he received a Tony nomination. Grier has appeared in over 30 films, most recently “Dance Flick”, “The Woodsman”, “Bewitched”, and “The Poker House”. Grier won the Golden Lion award for best actor for the film “Streamers” directed by Robert Altman at the Venice film festival. On television he has appeared in “The Chocolate News” and for four seasons in the Emmy award winning series “In Living Color”. Grier is the author of the book “Barack Like Me: The Chocolate Covered Truth”. Grier has been an avid collector of art, and has collaborated on a performance piece “The Alchemy Of Comedy, Stupid” with the artist Edgar Arceneaux which was included in the 2008 Whitney Biennial.

VIDEO | Producer: Ian Forster, Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Camera & Sound: Ian Forster & Nick Ravich. Additional Camera: Erica Matson. Editor: Ian Forster & Joaquin Perez. Artwork Courtesy: Carrie Mae Weems. Photos Courtesy: Roberts J. Saferstein & Comedy Central. Thanks: CORE:club, Pablo de Ritis & Jason Smith.


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