‘Past Tense’ performance to explore justice and violence


“Past Tense” will use poetry, videos and music to serve as a meditation and response to violence against African Americans at the hands of law enforcement and others in authority.

Presented by the University Musical Society and created by photographer and video artist Carrie Mae Weems, “Past Tense” begins at 8 p.m. Feb. 15 and 16 at the Power Center. To purchase tickets, visit ums.org/performance/past-tense. A Q&A will take place after both performances.

Weems, who in 2013 was named a MacArthur Fellow, has participated in many solo and group exhibitions at major national and international museums. She has received numerous awards and honors, including the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Lucie Award for fine art photography, and the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal from Harvard University.

“Past Tense” is a mixed media production, incorporating music, text, projections, poetry and speakers. It will include videos of those killed by law enforcement, including Eric Garner, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

Photo of Past Tense
(Photo courtesy of Onassis Cultural Center)

The production draws parallels to the classic tale of Antigone — the story of an innocent man who dies by unjustified means, and his sister who fights to bury him honorably, UMS Marketing & Media Relations Coordinator Mallory Shea said.

“I think it’s really important to take time to examine the world in which we currently live within the context of where we’ve been,” Shea said. “Ms. Weems investigates common experiences like family relationships, racism, classism and politics in a way that really helps us understand our present by examining our collective past as a society.”


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