Standing at the grave of Emmett Till, day of exhumation, June 1st, 2005 (Alsip, IL)


Jason Lazarus (American, born 1975)




Pigmented inkjet print


43 × 56 inches


Purchase with Photography Acquisition Fund and funds from the H. B. and Doris Massey Charitable Trust

Accession #


On View

Currently not on view

Jason Lazarus’s photograph of Emmett Till’s gravesite is an exercise in historical reckoning and restoration around issues of racial violence. Till, a Black teenager from Chicago, was lynched for allegedly whistling at a White woman in Money, Mississippi. Lazarus depicts a bucolic, seemingly benign midwestern landscape marred by a hole covered with sheets of plywood. Lazarus, who is White, grapples here with the history of racial injustice in the United States and his own complicity in its legacy: “Part of the point of the image is the inability to in any way visualize the initial terror and the ensuing historical arc that still continues—it is un-photographable.” By titling the work Standing at the grave, Lazarus emphasizes his subjectivity in the endeavor of bearing witness to history. His understated composition places the viewer beside Till’s grave soon after his body was exhumed for autopsy. Lazarus’s photograph forces us to wrestle with the unresolved specter of Till’s murder and its echoes into the present.