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The Thirty-Six Unknown at National Humanities Center

Wednesday 3.19 

click to enlarge The Thirty-Six Unknown
  • The Thirty-Six Unknown

Research Triangle Park
Todd Weinstein's The Thirty-Six Unknown
National Humanities Center—Photographer Todd Weinstein conceived The Thirty-Six Unknown as a healing project, stemming from years he spent as an artist in residence in Germany. On excursions to Cracow and Auschwitz in Poland, he found himself photographing what he calls "spirits," the appearance of faces seen in cracked cobblestones, natural mineral formations and decaying architectural surfaces. The Thirty-Six Unknown is based on a passage in the Talmud that says the world needs at least 36 righteous beings in order to exist. The exhibition is on view at the National Humanities Center in an atmosphere of study and contemplation. Visitors wandering the walkways of the Center's lobby will encounter works named for "hidden ones" such as "The Story Teller," seen in a rusted iron plate found amid a wild overgrowth of weeds, or the "Mourner," a road sign with rusted bolts that shed dark rivulets of tears, with the water damage of the decrepit stone wall in the background signifying a copious collective crying.

Untitled works that convey subtle details at the intersection of nature and architecture are interspersed with named images, which helps balance work that sometimes moves into the literal. On the other hand, the show's most powerful piece may just be its most literal: "The Scribe" documents a profound historical moment, a cloaked faceless figure returning the Torah to Auschwitz. —Amy White

The National Humanities Center is located at 7 T.W. Alexander Drive, Research Triangle Park. Visit nationalhumanitiescenter.org. The exhibit remains on view through June 30.

  • The Thirty-Six Unknown at National Humanities Center

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