Unraveling Paradise

10 April–1 May 2022

Curated by Dessane Lopez Cassell, Unraveling Paradise presents a selection of Caribbean films and artist’s moving image works that pry apart illusions of the region as a tropical “paradise.”

Co-presented with Metrograph

There’s a powerful myth that’s been reinforced in the Caribbean for centuries. From early tourism campaigns to contemporary media, visions of the region as a tropical ‘paradise’ abound—each peddling a fantasy carefully crafted for maximum consumption. Framing the notion of paradise as a case study in colonial myth-making, this film series centers instability, mischief, and the mundane as counter gestures to the fantasies that bind the Caribbean in a predatory economic and cultural relationship with the Global North. Featuring work by Sofía Gallisá Muriente (with the New York premiere of Celaje), Joiri Minaya, Natalia Cabraland Oriol Estrada, Esther Figueroa, Johanné Gómez Terrero, and Dalissa Montez de Oca (with the US premiere of Pacaman). —Dessane Lopez Cassell


Paradise in Ruins, April 10, 2022 at 6:30 PM Celaje (Cloudscape). 2020. Dir. Sofía Gallisá Muriente. USA (Puerto Rico). 41 mins. Screening followed by a Q&A with Sofía Gallisá MurienteJamaica for Sale, April 17, 2022 at 7:15 PM Jamaica for Sale. 2009. Dir. Esther Figueroa. 84 mins.Beyond the Gates, April 24, 2022 at 6:45 PM Pacaman. 2021. Dir. Dalissa Montes de Oca. 23 min. Caribbean Fantasy. 2016. Dir. Johanné Gómez Terrero. 53 min. Maintenance Work, May 1, 2022 Labadee. 2017. Dir. Joiri Minaya. Haiti/USA. 7 mins. El Sitio de los Sitios (Site of Sites). 2016. Dirs. Natalia Cabral and Oriol Estrada. Dominican Republic. 61 mins. ABOUT Dessane Lopez Cassell is an editor, writer, and curator based in New York. Her work focuses on artist’s moving image, documentary, and experimental film practices concerned with race, gender, and decoloniality. Cassell is Editor-in-Chief of Seen, a new journal of film and visual culture from BlackStar Projects, and previously served as the reviews editor at Hyperallergic. A former museum worker, she has organized curatorial projects and screenings at the Museum of Modern Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Flaherty NYC, among others.


Unraveling Paradise is co-presented and co-commissioned by Abrons Arts Center and Metrograph. Early research support for this series was provided by Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center. Image courtesy of Metrograph