Eden is the myth of an ideal place removed from consciousness and strife.
As a mythic theme, Eden or Paradise resonates across time and cultures and is charged with spiritual, political, and environmental meanings.
Photographs are a kind of Eden. Like gardens, photographs confine, structure, and represent evidence of our attempts to regain both an ideal and a real state.
The photographers in Picturing Eden examine the many facets of Paradise, from places of contemplation and restoration to sites of loneliness and despair.
The idea of Eden captured the artistic imagination long before the invention of photography. Very early on, visual images—paintings, drawings, woodcuts, and engravings—not only represented artistic expression, they also served as vehicles for disseminating information in support of one or another particular belief. As the notion of Eden transformed into the evolution of garden styles, photography became an ideal medium to capture the rich variety of these man-made environments.
These early images provide a basis for exploring the contemporary interpretation of Eden and Paradise in Picturing Eden.
Guest curator for George Eastman House
Picturing Eden was organized by George Eastman House International Museum of Photography.