Carrie Mae Weems discusses her 1995-96 photography series, “From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried.”
"Power and sex: they control so much of our lives. I’ve spent a great deal of time looking at questions of race and gender, and out of that came this piece, ‘From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried.’ You have this narrative that runs across the entire work, images that lay out a very specific development of history: of photographic history in the United States and of Black history in the United States.
"They’re all, for the most part, black and white photographs. I used a monochrome red; I placed mattes over the top of them to obscure certain elements; I add text on glass in order to also distance the original photograph and make clear this was something that was taken from something else; this was lifted.
"The thing that I learned to do, that I pay attention to, are patterns of repetition. That simple refrain of ‘you became, you became, you became,’ or simply, ‘ha, ha, ha.’
"So there’s three narratives that are working simultaneously, and then the individual photographs, for the most part, stand alone as individual units. A narrative like ‘you became a scientific profile’; a negroid type’; ‘an anthrophological debate’; ‘a photographic subject’—they’re all of these sort of singular moments that go on to make a more complex story. I suppose, in a way, it’s like a film, the way in which film functions. It doesn’t have a single note, but it has many. It has notes of complication and duplicity and complicity. I love the rhythm of the text that’s created that allows for the image to be amplified."