THE NARRATIVES TAKEN on in Warren Neidich’s recent photographic diptychs engage perhaps the two most controversial and repressed passages in modern U.S. history: the everyday life of blacks in the mid-19th-century pre-Abolitionist South, and the internment camps that held Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II. These are passional moments of American history, moments of national trauma, of mass blindness and mass complicity, moments that still figure in our construction of “racial” difference, moments that return in the flash of a stereotype or at the butt of a joke; moments that appear well documented but that are equally well disguised. Rarely are such moments alluded to at all in the contemporary art world, and more rarely still are the means found to question the apparent neutrality of the archive of images that re-forms (and effaces) these histories.

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