Nikki’s Place, 2005-6
Archival Inkjet Print, Edition of 40
Image: 15 ⅞ x 15 ⅞ in. (40.32 x 40.32 cm)
Paper: 24 x 19 ⅞ in. (60.96 x 50.48 cm)
“Only the black woman can say ‘when and where I enter, in the quiet, undisputed dignity of my womanhood, without violence and without suing or special patronage, then and there the whole . . . race enters with me.'”
– Anna Julia Cooper
When and Where I Enter is a magnificent piece of Weems’ where she tackles issues of race and gender using a philosophical and historical touchstone in a manner that is elegant, concise and potent. Inspired by the Anna Julia Cooper quote mentioned above – Weems created the Roaming series (another notable work from this series is When and Where I Enter the British Museum, 2007) to discuss the invisible hostility Black women are faced with while navigating life – whether it is being looked down upon because of their race or endangered because of their gender but most often – a toxic combination of the two.
In this edition, Weems kneels, with her back facing the viewer, towards a sunlit balcony. Dark weighty curtains frame her shadowed silhouette while demi-columns stand littered on the ground beside her. As the viewer’s gaze recedes through the work, moving outwards from Weems’ silhouette, it is unearthed that the artist is on a production set. A tripod is seen on the far left and a large Fresnel light stands parallel to her figure while a fly loft cuts off the space over her head.
The intention of this work by Carrie Mae Weems is curious because the options are limitless. Could she be confronting the lack of Black women in popular movies and television? Or given the antiquated European setting – could that notion be extended to classical films and theatrical pieces or European aesthetics as a whole? Either way, Weems’ ominous presence in the scene sparks an important reckoning of the Black woman’s body and its place in the world.