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Wendel White

SPE Member since 1985
Member Chapter: Mid-Atlantic


The Manifest portfolio is an ongoing project, producing photographs of African American material culture contained within public and private collections throughout the U.S. These repositories have accumulated various materials including, diaries, documents, receipts for the purchase of humans, musical instruments, doors, hair, photographs, souvenirs, and other artifacts—some with great significance and as well as the commonplace, quotidian material from the history of the Black community.

The Manifest portfolio is an ongoing process and currently includes more than 100 images.

The photographs are a response to the collective physical remnants of the American concept and representation of race. 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. These artifacts are the forensic evidence of Black life and events in the United States. This portfolio has become a reliquary and a survey of the African American narrative, as constructed, within public archives and private collections.

Various projects have occupied my attention during the past three 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 photograph, or a partially burned document.

Intestine, male, African descent, 1849 cholera. Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians Philadelphia

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