Carrie Mae Weems

From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried

1995
The thirty-four photographs that make up the complete piece are reproductions of 1850 daguerreotypes of American slaves, that were intended to prove that blacks were a species separate from whites. The humiliation of being treated as pseudo-scientific specimens is evident in the faces of the men and women forced to pose in states of undress. Over these insidiously racist images, the African-American artist Carrie Mae Weems has added an intimate and sympathetic text that, with a rhythmical "Ha," resists and mocks the various roles assigned to blacks. The rest of the text reads, in part: " From Here I Saw What Happened ... You Became Mammie, Mama, Mother & Then, Yes, Confidant - Ha ... Descending The Throne You Became Foot Soldier and Cook ... Black and Tanned Your Whipped Wind of Change Howled Low Blowing Itself - Ha - Smack Into the Middle of Ellington's Orchestra ... In Your Sing Song You Asked Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel? ... And I Cried
Title
From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried
Date
1995
Medium
Photograph
Materials
dye coupler prints under etched glass in wood frames stained black
Dimensions
67.9 x 57.7 x 2.1 cm each (integral frame); image: 45.8 cm diam. each
Nationality
American
Credit line
Purchased 1996
Accession number
38198.1-4