Excerpt: RE:COLLECTION: Selected Works from The Studio Museum in Harlem

Studio Museum

Carrie Mae Weems
Untitled (Black Love), 1999/2001
Three gelatin silver prints
Museum purchase with funds provided by the Acquisition Committee  02.20.1

Carrie Mae Weems: Untitled (Black Love)

by Xaviera Simmons

Is it possible to locate the interior language of these longings? Are the locations of desire found in the waiting, the reunion or the exact moments before the embrace? What are the minute details found in memories and where are the specific locations in the body that hold the space of waiting? The memory of time always bonds as this triptych rests on time as a cycle of moments of wait, of steps to come and of embraces desired, willed to and longed for.

Does anticipation unravel or stay the landscape of waiting? In this triptych the questions rest on the architecture of cycles. What can be said of the moments before a reunion, the first image asks. Will the lovers remain sensuous through the cycles of staying the course and resting in the wait? A waiting begins the series while an embrace is the pose of the steady. It is the pose of the middle, the point of anticipation and reunion that draws out the visual landscape of this triptych.

Then the image to the right, it is the steady; it is the interior space that declares a finale and it is the firm ground that at once embeds and contains the intricate poetics found in the embrace. The architecture of this image rests comfortably between the seductress’ willing hips, the weave of her hands, the shape of her confidant legs and her demure gaze. The willing seducer is simultaneously conqueror and conquered. And of this reunion one cannot construct with words alone.

Reunions transform the singular; they jet the singular forward to plural with the first decision to wait and then even further to one held breath, to one step closer and to one embrace. In these reunions there possesses the overwhelming knowing of a return to the cycle of wait. It is embedded at the moment of the embrace. This triptych points the viewing towards an end and then back again.

Photographs contain multiple notions; they propose, announce, respond to, declare, blame, contribute, and contain desire. Photographs remain in the liminal states of seconds, moments, particular spaces, ideal memories, and longings.


Untitled (Black Love) is currently on view in Collected. Black & White.

RE:COLLECTION: Selected Works from The Studio Museum in Harlem can be purchased at the Museum Store or on our online shop. For more glimpses into the Studio Museum's Permanent Collection pick up a copy today!