Untitled (Boone Plantation)
American, born 1953
Carrie Mae Weems’s African American heritage and her interest in history, culture, and folklore inform her photography. Untitled (Boone Plantation) belongs to her Sea Island Series (1991-1992), a group of more than twenty image-and-text works that were inspired by the Sea Islands off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina. According to the ceramic plates that are another component of the series, Weems was “looking for Africa” in this project. With its strong ties to West African culture, The Gullah culture of the Sea Islands provided an especially rich site for her investigation.
This photograph appears to depict an idyllic pastoral landscape, but in actuality it represents a site with a tragic history. The abandoned buildings at the edge of the tree-canopied field were a plantation’s slave quarters. Weems reveals the history of a place and a culture by pairing this ambiguous image with a text panel recounting a folktale about slaves who could fly home to Africa. The combination of image and text challenges viewers to think about the racially charged history of the United States and what Weems has described as “our humanity, our plight as human beings.”