Deana Lawson

The Garden, Gemena, DR Congo

Not on view



Inkjet print

Sheet (sight): 55 3/16 × 69 9/16in. (140.2 × 176.7 cm) Image (sight): 55 3/16 × 69 9/16in. (140.2 × 176.7 cm) Mount (sight): 55 3/16 × 69 9/16in. (140.2 × 176.7 cm)

Accession number

1/1 | 1 AP

Credit line
Purchase, with funds from the Jack E. Chachkes Endowed Purchase Fund

Rights and reproductions
© Deana Lawson and Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, IL


  • Whitney Biennial 2017, Spanish

    Deana Lawson

    Deana Lawson


    Mia Locks: Creo que un aspecto interesante en la obra fotográfica de Deana Lawson es que, a primera vista, las imágenes no parecieran montadas sino que semejan instantáneas, pero en realidad están muy construidas.

    Narrator: Mia Locks.

    Mia Locks: Con frecuencia se inspiran en un recuerdo de la fotógrafa o en algo que imagina. Luego dibuja bocetos para después encontrar a la persona, bien sea que la conozca o no; por ejemplo, alguien que descubre en el supermercado.

    Creo que Deana revela algo interesante en trabajo. Dice que, al trabajar con extraños, se inspira en la idea de un álbum familiar extenso.

    Christopher Lew: Algo que siempre me ha interesado de la obra de Deana es el respeto y la dignidad que la artista da a la gente fotografiada.

    Narrator: Christopher Lew.

    Christopher Lew: Una de las motivaciones principales de la artista es presentar personas negras con la dignidad, respeto y amor que considera ausentes en las imágenes dominantes o en las difundidas en las noticias.

  • Whitney Biennial 2017

    Deana Lawson

    Deana Lawson


    Mia Locks: I think one of the interesting things about Deana Lawson’s photographs is that upon first glance they don’t really look like they’re staged, they seem almost like snapshots, but in fact they’re really highly constructed.

    Narrator: Mia Locks.

    Mia Locks: They’re often inspired either by a memory of hers or something in her imagination, and she’ll actually draw sketches, and then she’ll actually find a person either that she knows or sometimes a stranger that she just sort of sees in the supermarket and she’ll actually cast someone.

    I think one of the interesting things that Deana has said about this body of work is that it draws inspiration from this idea of an expanded family album, when she’s often working with strangers.

    Christopher Lew: One of the things that’s always drawn me to Deana’s work is the sense of respect and dignity that she gives to the people that she photographs.

    Narrator: Christopher Lew.

    Christopher Lew: One of the really primary motivations for her is to present black people with the kind of sense of dignity and respect and love that she feels is lacking in say mainstream images or what you find in the news.

  • Human Interest

    Deana Lawson, The Garden, Gemena, DR Congo, 2015

    Deana Lawson, The Garden, Gemena, DR Congo, 2015


    Deana Lawson: I’m Deana Lawson. I’m a photo-based artist. This image is taken in D.R. Congo; it’s in a small town called Gemena.

    We often think of countries in Africa, especially D.R. Congo as a site of crisis or a problematic place. I was interested in switching that dynamic. Instead of seeing it in terms of a place of crisis I wanted to imagine it as a paradise or Eden. Robert Farris Thompson talks about Congo being the center of the mother continent, almost like the veins coming out of Congo. The center of humanity, in general. And my idea with The Garden was that the subjects would pose as the first human beings on earth.

    Narrator: Lawson modeled their poses after the images of Adam and Eve in Hieronymous Bosch’s sixteenth-century painting, The Garden of Earthly Delights.

    Deana Lawson: I found the female subject, who worked at a local restaurant in Gemena, and the male subject was my taxi driver. So they’re not a real couple, but it’s completely staged to look as though they’re a couple.

    The male subject has his hand on her belly. Often people ask if she’s pregnant; she’s not pregnant, but I don’t mind that being a possibility of the imagination.

    I’m really looking at these two individuals and trying to imagine or put out an image in the world that represents a divine intimacy, which I think is needed right now, particularly when so many of popular culture images and media put forth a divisiveness, a lot of times, between black men and black women. So to me this is about asserting this, somewhat of a love story.

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