Gesche Würfel : At the Hands of Persons Unknown

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25/08/2018 - 14/10/2018

12 h 00 min - 17 h 00 min

The Center for Photography at Woodstock
59 Tinker Street
NY 12498, Woodstock

Unlike painters of the Hudson River School, who depicted forests and untamed nature to revel in the grandeur of Eden-like splendor, Gesche Würfel seeks out trees that might have witnessed mankind’s darkest acts against humanity. She describes how moving to North Carolina — a German woman with an African-American husband and their mixed race son — compelled her to face the South’s complicated history of race and lynching. Würfel soon came to view grand southern trees as persistent reminders for over 4,700 recorded lynchings, most of which targeted African American males, but at least 170 black and white females as well.
The series At the Hands of Persons Unknown combines Würfel’s concern in female lynching victims with the idea of trees as silent witnesses that remained after the mob dispersed. The stark, black-and-white photographs capture a glimpse of the horrors from the tree’s viewpoint. Emotional and raw in their abstract quality, these photographs nevertheless allow room to acknowledge and mourn this unresolved history.
Gesche Würfel is a Teaching Assistant Professor for the Department of Art and Art History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the author of Basement Sanctuaries (Schilt Publishing, 2014). Her work has been exhibited, published and awarded internationally.

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