Photographer's Images Evoke Jewish Tradition
and the Search for Hope
News Release Date: February 22, 2008
Research Triangle Park, N.C. With images taken in locations with ominous associations such as Dachau, Auschwitz, and Buchenwald, one might expect Todd Weinstein's photographic essay "The Thirty-Six Unknown" to be solemn, even overwhelming in its sense of loss and human suffering. This remarkable exhibit, however, which derives its name from the "lamed vov-niks," the thirty-six righteous strangers in Kabbalistic folklore, is something quite different, as it collectively evokes hope rather than horror, and the incredible capacity of human beings to look expectantly for deliverance.
In Talmudic tradition, the thirty-six hidden ones are necessary for the world to survive. Appearing when they are needed, at times of great peril, called out of their anonymity and humility by the dictates of necessity, they offer hope for mankind and the promise of salvation from our suffering.
Likewise, Weinstein's photographic subjects—stones, oil spills, barbed wire, crumbling buildings, found objects—are almost universally mundane. But through the perspective of Weinstein's lens, the viewer is encouraged to see something altogether different, noble, and good. With suggestive captions, each of these images suggests the hidden potential for compassion, transcendence, relief from the pains of circumstance and surroundings.
This solo exhibition of Weinstein's photographs has traveled extensively, appearing in galleries around the world. This show at the National Humanities Center, however, will be its first appearance in the Southeast.
Starting work as a commercial photographer in the early 1970s, and working with clients such as American Express and Canon, Weinstein's career has turned more and more toward the purely artistic over the past three decades. Trained by leading figures in the New York photographic scene and Jewish artistic community, his work has most often drawn on his Jewish heritage, including extensive work with Holocaust survivors and their stories.
Weinstein's images have been shown in galleries around the world, in over 40 exhibitions, including 12 one-person shows. His work has also been added to over a dozen major museum collections, including those of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. He has also published several volumes of his images, Todd Weinstein—Personal Journalism: A Decade of Color Photography, 1980-1990 (Union Square Gallery Press); Speaking Out: Jewish Voices From United Germany (Atlantik Brucke Publishing); and Pix4notes #one The 36 Unknown (pix4notes.com Publishing, Paris, France).
"The Thirty-Six Unknown" will be on exhibit at the National Humanities Center from March 1 through June 30, 2008. A reception to celebrate the exhibit opening and to meet the artist will be held at the Center on Saturday, March 1, 2:00 - 5:00 p.m. The public is welcome. The Center gallery is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
For more information on Todd Weinstein's work, visit toddweinstein.com. For information about events at the National Humanities Center, please call Don Solomon at (919) 549-0661 or e-mail him at email@example.com.
Pictured above: King, Mainz, Germany from "The Thirty-Six Unknown"