In 1989, Carrie Mae Weems set up a camera at her kitchen table and took photos of staged domestic scenes from the same angle, at the same distance. Twenty of those photographs—ranging from a mother and daughter applying makeup, to a husband and wife bickering, to that same husband and wife tenderly hugging—became her acclaimed “Kitchen Table” series. The wife in those images was Weems herself, introducing a theme that would later become a signature of her work: performance. Select photos from this series are featured in “Witness,” a retrospective of Weems’s four-decade career. Tracing the motif of performance in her work, the exhibition also includes her early photograph series “Family Pictures and Stories” (in which she casts her own family members) and the more recent “Constructing History” (in which she has college students re-enacting 1960s political scenes). The retrospective highlights how Weems has used staged tableaux to consider Black family life and American history. —J.D.
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