Today is the day! If you’re just a bit on the fence about who to vote for, consider an opinion from photography master Carrie Mae Weems. Created for the For Freedoms exhibition organized by the artist-run super PAC, Weems’ advertisement features images of her standing resolute in front of (and facing) such iconic American monuments like the Lincoln Memorial. The images are reminiscent of those in her Roaming (2006) series where she poses herself in front of various locations of historical importance around the world.
Since it’s erection, the Lincoln Memorial has been a symbolic center focused on race relations. In 1939 it was the place were opera singer Marian Anderson was denied her performance in front of an integrated audience. It also was the site of Martin Luther King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech. Weems’ photograph poses her tall frame squarely in front of the enormous, larger-than-life statue of a seated Lincoln. Visually referencing the underdog situation of a “David and Goliath” showdown, although Weems distinctly female figure stands calm, not in defense. It is if she is waiting in expectation, her sole body representing America’s black population. Although the image is timeless and it is not clear when the “wait” will end.
Last month Weems’ released a new video, “The Power of Your Vote”, in support of Hillary Clinton. In it Weems overlays President Obama’s September 18, 2016 address with video footage of ordinary New Yorkers on the street. Weems’ camera captures a diverse array of the NYC population as they walk in and out of the frame going about their daily, free lives. The words and warnings of Obama’s now infamous speech collide with these images in a timely message warning us/the viewer that the uniqueness of this country, the ability of men and women of all walks of life to mingle amongst each other in peace, is at stake.