Reconstructing the Past: The Power of Visual Culture in Works By Glenn Ligon, Carrie Mae Weems and Michael Ray Charles
This thesis involves the construction and re-presentation of history by artists Glenn Ligon, Carrie Mae Weems, and Michael Ray Charles. These artists question how history is visually understood and disseminated, yet their work also reflects present notions of racial identity and gender that are hidden within iconic imagery but revealed through these investigations. What is unique about these artists is their vastly differing formal approaches to the archive, which are nevertheless unified in their explorations of legibility and their reworking of photographs and objects from the 1960s. The conceptual archive plays an integral role in this investigation, as its connections to how history is promoted and visualized serve as the anchor through which Weems, Ligon, and Charles communicate.