Whether conceived as the birthplace of innocence or a final destination that only the chosen few can enter, the concept of paradise has entranced us across cultures and eras. For some it is the stillness of absolute peace, for others a zone of sensual delight with fountains, fruit, naked virgins, kindly animals and melodious music.
As spiritual ascent or sensual escape, Paradise calls to us and we respond with our imaginations. From the hanging gardens of Nebuchadnezzar to the gardens in our own backyards, we seek to create accessible approximations of an unattainable realm. Jorge Luis Borges, explorer of imaginary worlds, said, “I have always imagined Paradise as a kind of library.” For less cerebral seekers, paradise may be found in sun-drenched tropical resorts, open to anyone with a bank account, or in amusement parks offering ecstasy on the backside of terror.
Whether commercially, spiritually or artistically derived, all paradises thrive by providing stark contrast to the daily grind. In his Natural History, Pliny the Elder added to his idyllic description of the Islands of the Gods (which he situated in the location of today’s Canary Islands): “These islands, however, are greatly annoyed by the putrefying bodies of monsters, which are constantly thrown up by the sea.” And this is, indeed, the dark secret of paradise: for every heaven, there must be a hell.
This year, Proteus Gowanus explores the theme of Paradise, examining the light and the dark sides of this alluring word and inviting our friends and visitors to join us as we roam longingly in search of paradise.Paradise Co-Curator: Erik Schurink
Paradise Correspondents: Madhu Kaza
Paradise 1 – Locales
Fall 2010Contributors: Angelo Bellfatto, Diane Bertolo, Svetlana Boym, Dominique Cooper, Ernst Haeckel, John Hudak, Okay Karadiyalar, KS Lack, Eva Melas, Lado Pochkhua, Lance Rutledge, Erik Schurink, Suzan Shutan, Suzanne Silver, Joshua Stern, Friese Undine, Studio AND (Audra Wolowiec and Niels Cosman)
Paradise 2 – Longings and Utopias
Winter 2011Contributors: Diane Bertolo, Micheline Gingras, Marcia Hillis, Leslie Kerby, Peter Ketcham, Tom Klinkowstein, Patricia McDonough, Lisanne McTernan, Eva Melas, Joseph Motroni, Adine Sagalyn, Erik Schurink, Theo Stewart Stand, Terreforme One, Kit Warren
Paradise 3 – Bedevilment
More information about this third and final Paradise exhibition can be found here.Contributors: Sally Agee, Diane Bertolo, Peter Bonner, Jessica Cannon, Stella Chasteen, Enome Ekeh, David Eustace, Nancy Friedemann, Anne Garland, Madhu Kaza, Rosamond King, Edith Kollath, Paula Lalala, Clarinda Mac Low, Walter Polkosnik, Purdy Eaton, Leon Waller, A Wrecked Tangle Press, The Writhing Society.