Paradise Lost: Artist talk
Paradise Lost tells a story of Miami's most explosive decade. In the late seventies Miami re-emerged as a cocaine-ridden city of drugs and violence. Debaucherous discothèques, palatial mansions, exotic car dealerships, and international banks defined the new space that would become the future of contemporary South Florida. This body of work features photography, film, mirrored etchings, and works on paper exploring the themes of power, desire and destruction. Historical figures like cigarette boat king Don Aronow, drug queenpin Griselda Blanco and celluloid icon Tony Montana all worked well as symbols of empty promise. A passion for true crime and the current level of greed and corruption in our culture provided timely inspiration. "I figured it was a loose metaphor, much like the poem Paradise Lost by John Milton (1667) about the fall of man," says Casagrande.
In the glamour of the night, the mirrored squares circling the dance floor create a fleeting contradiction between fantasy and reality. The power of transformation, and the popularity of cocaine’s anxiety ridden nature framed my decision to work within the notion of mirrors and perception. The grid pattern’s allusive nature creates a linear abstraction reducing the space down to a single square. The square becomes a ring, the ring becomes a battle, and within this square is a spectacle of power. A dance unfolds where power and morality are on the line until a new opponent emerges in victory. -- Paul Mittleman, curator, Paradise Lost.
About the artist:
Reggie Casagrande was born in Fairfax, VA. and currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. She studied at Syracuse University and UCLA. Casagrande started her career in New York working for fashion photographer Sante D’Orazio and spent the next couple of years in Los Angeles and Sydney, Australia honing her craft shooting celebrities and focusing on fashion photography. Her work has been published in PAPER, Elle, theFader, and Details magazines. After several years as a commercial photographer she decided to pursue her passion and focus on contemporary art. Casagrande founded the magazine and web forum Lipsticktracez in April 2008 where she publishes features on contemporary art and design culture. Paradise Lost is her first solo exhibition.