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  • Manifest
  • Wendel A. White (bio)

Manifest is an ongoing project, a portfolio of nearly one hundred photographs of African American material culture held in public and private collections throughout the United States. These repositories have accumulated diaries, receipts for the purchase of humans, hair, a drum, a door, photographs, figurines, and other artifacts—some with great historical significance, some the commonplace, quotidian material of black life.

This project is concerned with the physical remnants of the American concept and representation of race. The histories of slavery, abolition, the U.S. Civil War, segregation, oppression, accomplishment, and agency are among the narratives that emerge in these photographs.

I am increasingly interested in the residual power of the past to inhabit 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. While the artifacts are remarkable as visual evidence of lives and events, I also intend the viewer to consider this informal reliquary as a survey of the impulse and motivation to preserve history and memory.

Various projects have occupied my attention during the past two decades; in retrospect, each has been part of a singular effort to seek out the ghosts and resonant memories of the material world. I am drawn to the stories "dwelling within" a spoon, a cowbell, a book, a postcard, or a partially burned document.

The photographs are made with a 4 × 5 view camera, using film or digital capture. The prints are pigment-based inkjet.

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Lunch Box, Larkin Franklin Sr., Eatonville Historic Preservation, Eatonville, Florida, 2012.

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Slave Bill of Sale, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library, Ithaca, New York, 2009.

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Door Knob, Maye St. Julien, Eatonville Historic Preservation, Eatonville, Florida, 2012.

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Spoon, Harriet Tubman House, Auburn, New York, 2009.

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Iron, Great Plain Black History Museum, Omaha, Nebraska, 2011.

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Tintype, Fenton History Center, Jamestown, New York, 2009.

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Zora Neale Hurston Sketch Book, Smathers Library Special Collections, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, 2012.

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James Baldwin Inkwell, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C., 2016.

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FBI Files on Malcolm X, Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln, Nebraska, 2011.

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Poster of Angela Davis, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C., 2016.

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Drum, Dan Desdunes Band, Great Plains Black History Museum, Omaha, Nebraska, 2011.

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Cab Calloway Home Movies: Haiti, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C., 2016.

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Radio Raheem's boombox from the movie Do the Right Thing, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C., 2016.

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New Orleans Door, Hurricane Katrina, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C., 2016.

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Quilt (W. Black), Great Plains Black History Museum, Omaha, Nebraska, 2011.

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Wendel A. White

Wendel A. White was born in Newark, New Jersey and grew up in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. He earned a BFA in photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York and an MFA in photography from the University of Texas at Austin. His work has received various awards, including fellowships and grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the New Jersey State Council for the Arts, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 14-29
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-31
Open Access
No
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