Voice, Interiority, and Diaspora
This chapter analyzes Carrie Mae Weems’s photographic installation From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried (1995–1996) as a performance of witnessing in which Weems restores voice to the archive of portraits that she reprints. While Weems’s installation has been read as trafficking in woundedness, this chapter argues that thinking photography as a technology of reproduction allows us to see Weems’s work as enlarging concepts of diaspora and mothering while also insisting on the opacity of interiority. This chapter positions this form of the maternal in conversation with Audre Lorde’s expansive concept of diaspora. Here, the concept of brown jouissance allows us to reimagine the work that is going on in this piece of art. It enables us to theorize witnessing and photography as fleshy enactments of spiritual resistance and to re-imagine possibilities of black gendering.
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