“It is an irrepressible desire to return to the origin, a homesickness, a nostalgia for the return to the most archaic place of absolute commencement.”
– Jacques Derrida
Reenactors precede their performance with archival research – using Civil War ephemera and photography to inform their immersion. Despite the perceived authenticity of archival documentation, such an archive is not free from manipulation. Questioning a singular authenticity that such work claims, this installation reproduces elements of the Civil War archive, featuring materials left behind after reenactments.
Reenactment no longer animates the objects of Manufactured Archive. This reimagined Civil War archive reflects the ways in which histories, like the objects confined to frames, may appear static and yet transform through time.
Reenactment’s sensory immersion extends to taste. Union soldiers ate Necco Wafers – then called “hub wafers.” Reenactors continue to eat them today.
Reenactors roll and fill “paper ladies” with gunpowder prior to battle, tearing the paper and pouring the powder into the musket while on the field.
One woman left a reenactment by ambulance after a bug punctured her eardrum. The next night, others preventatively slept with cotton in their ears.
Civil War salesmen sell period gear on “Sutler’s Row.” Though some scoff at the sutlers’ “generic garbage,” such sales reflect reenacting’s commercial component.
These scatter a field following battle. Artillerymen collect the primer wires after the battle’s end, attaching them to their hats as souvenirs.
Passengers, comprised of reenactors and spectators, were assigned tickets as they road alongside one another on a historic steam engine.