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An Anthropological Debate
Date: 1995-96
Artist and Related People:
Dimensions: Framed: 26 1/2 x 22 3/4 in. (67.3 x 57.8 cm)
Medium: Chromogenic print with sandblasted text on glass
Credit Line: Purchase, with funds provided by the ICP Acquisitions Committee, 2000
Description: Your Mirror: Portraits from the ICP Collection Section: Appropriation In her series From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried, Carrie Mae Weems brackets well-known nineteenth and twentieth-century photographic representations of African Americans in the United States with two portraits of an African woman who laments what has happened to the African diasporic community. Weems’s text, which is etched on glass, creates distance from the original photographs while calling out their racist intent. For these works, Weems used daguerreotypes of enslaved people in Columbia, South Carolina, taken in 1850 by Joseph T. Zealy. Made at the behest of Swiss biologist Louis Agassiz, who had emigrated to the United States and became the country’s most famous scientist, these images were intended to show the physical differences between African blacks and European whites. Agassiz and other scientists believed that the races evolved separately and that the white race was superior, thus supporting Southern views of slavery.
Accession Number: 835.2000.3