2014 exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum was unprecedented, as she was the first African-American woman to have a show there. I remember the exhibition well; it was incredibly moving and powerful. Weems's photographs from her Museums series position the artist as a Ruckenfigur, displaying her body shrouded in black to the viewer as she stands outside the great cultural institutions and museums worldwide as an outsider. In her essay, Greene writes of the image you see here, Guggenheim Bilbao, 2006, as follows:
Weems journeyed to northern Spain ... to encounter the seduction of the sweeping, undulating, titanium walls of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, designed by Frank Gehry and completed in 1997. In the photograph Guggenheim Bilbao, Weems stands as a dark silhouette in her black, long-sleeved dress with her back to the viewer .... Weems stretches her arms outward to rest her hands on a white railing that heightens the chasm between her and the museum as water gently ripples below her. The framing of this photograph plays on the building's ship-like forms, with stern-like triangular peaks making Weems appear as if she is viewing the museum across a body of water from her own ship. Weems's serenity in the face of the immensity of the museum's presence grounds the viewer, encouraging a pause as the two ships purportedly confront each other. This moment of recognition of each other's position in space acknowledges their unreachability. (pp. 294-95)What Greene also intimates with this ship-like allusion is the history of the transatlantic slave trade and the ongoing legacy of slavery as a hindrance to people of color, in this instance in an art world dominated by white privilege and the 1%. Greene's reading of this image is wonderfully intuitive.