Curated by Mark Sealy for Autograph ABP

By 1990, Carrie Mae Weems’ was being widely exhibited in the USA and beginning to receive the attention of the international art world. Her work, then and even more so now, is bold, poignant, aesthetically beautiful, and always contained a stinging political jab.

At this time, Autograph ABP organised a national lecture tour for Carrie Mae Weems in the UK. Events took place in Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle and London. The idea was to introduce her practice to the UK with the aim of brokering a major one-person exhibition. Needless to say, a one-person show at that time never happened.

Since 1990, I have had the privilege of meeting Carrie Mae Weems on several occasions. Her warmth and support of Autograph has been immense and we have, in many ways now, been working together through a continued process of dialogue.

I remember her lecture at the Society for Photographic Education’s annual conference in Chicago in 1994 as being one of the most outstanding and emotive lectures I have ever attended: she didn’t just speak, she virtually sang her paper. Her voice, a combination of seductive authority and sadness, was used with all the skill of a contemporary jazz poet. It was a special moment: an occasion where both the performance and content moved the entire audience. She received a standing ovation: such was the poetics of her images.

The exhibition marks the continuation of the dialogue that Autograph has been having with Carrie Mae Weems and Cafe Gallery Projects London. This will be the fourth time that the gallery and Autograph have worked together. This is unique in our experience and is testament to the gallery’s long-term commitment and engagement with art and social change.

This is, of course, something that Cafe Gallery Projects, Autograph ABP and Carrie Mae Weems all share. The idea in this instance was to show at least one complete series of Weems’ work here in the UK for the first time. We didn’t want to fragment the work as part of a theme or survey exhibition. The idea was to let a body of work simply stand quietly in the space and speak for itself.

Mark Sealy Director Autograph ABP, April 2005