Flies in Amber: Documentary Objects as Subjects in Carrie Mae Weems
Beginning in the 1970s, Allan Sekula initiated a trenchant critique of the subjectivism of documentary photography. For Sekula, this practice had been used mostly in an uncritical and even voyeuristic manner. To deal with this problem, Sekula sought, mostly through the strategic use of text, to call attention to the contingency of photographic meaning as well as to challenge and even negate the role of authorial creativity in determining that meaning. Erina Duganne considers what Sekula's critique meant for Carrie Mae Weems, who shared a complicated relationship to its repudiation of authorial voice given that, as an African American woman, she had historically been denied agency or a voice from which to speak. Here, Jacobs explores how Weems continued to work with and reconfigure that subjective African American female voice nearly two decades later in her important mid-career piece.