In the beginning of the text are her lover’s first words to her: “So tell me baby, what do you know about this great big world of ours?” “Not a damn thing sugar,” she replies. Viewers may not be able to see the world outside of the kitchen’s walls, but her characters are trying to navigate it all the same. Weems, playing the muse, embraces her partner, their arms forming a single spiral. She’s alone, folding into herself, a half-empty bottle of wine in front of her. She laughs with her friends, their movement leaving spectral trails across the frame. She sits with her young daughter, both hunched over their writing, resting a weary head in her hand. In the final scenes, alone, she locks eyes with the camera. She finds pleasure, and comfort, with herself.
As she fired her camera shutter in her kitchen, Weems knew she was achieving something new in her work with “The Kitchen Table Series,” but she couldn’t have anticipated the power her daily performance would have three decades on: a series so universal and timeless, yet crucial in amplifying Black perspectives in art. “I knew that I was making images unlike anything I had seen before, but I didn’t know what that would mean,” she told W. “I knew what it meant for me, but I didn’t know what it would mean historically.”