“In Manifest, Wendel White makes historical objects intimate and singular. These objects—an oxidized spoon, an open diary, a slave bill of sale, and perhaps above all, a lock of Frederick Douglass’s hair—are all embodied, had once touched flesh, been manipulated by human hands, had lived in the world before they were packed up into the archive.” (Raiford, Memory Manifest)
There are nearly 100 images in the portfolio; currently 30 selected images (framed 32″x40″) are available for exhibition.
The Manifest portfolio consists of photographic representations of objects, documents, photographs, and books held in various public collections throughout the U.S. These repositories include various elements of material culture such as diaries, slave collars, human hair, a drum, souvenirs, and other objects, some with great significance and others simply quotidian representations of daily life in the history of the African American community. I am increasingly interested in the residual power of the past to inhabit these material remains. The ability of objects to transcend lives, centuries, and millennia, suggests a remarkable mechanism for folding time, bringing the past and the present into a shared space that is uniquely suited to artistic exploration.
Manifest is an effort to seek out the artifacts and material evidence of the American construct and representation of race. The histories of slavery, abolition, segregation, the U.S. Civil War, and the Civil Rights Era are a few of the narratives that emerge in these photographs. The content is remarkable, visual evidence of lives and events; however, I also intend the viewer to consider this informal reliquary as a survey of the impulse and motivation to preserve history, memory and to imbue the remnants of material culture with power.
“Yet in Manifest, White has pared down his visual product—though not his process—creating a series of objects encased within a photographic frame. Without text or audio, White manages to invoke a sense of place and time, of history and memory.” (Raiford)