Paradise is an ongoing photographic series documenting south and central Florida, exploring human isolation and loneliness against the state’s backdrop of immense natural wonder—and its breakdown. Dorsa’s fascination with Florida began in his childhood, growing up in an immigrant family in a suburb outside West Palm Beach, north of Miami. As an adult living and working in Brooklyn, Dorsa’s visits to his family in Florida became times of contrast—a fondness and nostalgia for home meeting intense boredom and a preoccupation with the fallacy of the Floridian promise of “paradise.”
The images in Paradise are sparsely populated and peculiar, exposing the strange nuance and dark undercurrent of a place otherwise happily reduced to its beaches, its simplicity, its offer of removal from the rat race. Both human and non-human subjects are rendered solitary, even forsaken: a young man hunched over his bicycle takes on the same quality as a lone deer caught as if in headlights on a well-manicured lawn, or a fallen light pole in a carpark. There is a sense of disquiet in these images that channels the wandering eye of the artist as it searches for stimulation across vast wetlands, rainforests and oceans. Paradise depicts a place stuck between two versions of itself, somehow evaded by its own beauty. A place that is—as a remote sign in one image reads—“almost heaven,” but not quite.
Daniel Dorsa (b. 1988) is a Brooklyn-based photographer who works across portraiture, fashion, landscape and visual reportage. A fascination with the cultural and aesthetic flatness of modern America permeates Dorsa’s work, which is tied to his upbringing in suburban Florida as a child of Cuban and Italian immigrants. Always present is a clever interplay between photographer, subject, light and place that emphasizes the richness of the human against an ever-looming backdrop of banality. Dorsa’s work has been commissioned and published by The New Yorker, The New York Times, New York Magazine, Vogue Mexico, Rolling Stone, Monocle, WSJ Magazine and Time Magazine, as well as by clients such as Herman Miller, Uniqlo, SSENSE, Levi’s, Atlantic Records, Airbnb and Matches Fashion. Dorsa’s first book, Paradise, draws together photographs made between 2017 and 2020 in south and central Florida, exploring isolation and environmental decay. It is available for pre-order with Pomegranate Press.
Archival pigment print
Edition of 25
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