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Paradise Paradox

Photographs by Sam Abell, Toben Ulrik Nissen and Ron Haviv.

Mixed media works by Bryan el Castillo.

Video by Maxi Cohen

Amazon Rainforest: Paradise | Paradox, a multi-media exhibition, represented an artistic introduction to the Amazon Rainforest, curated by James Cavello of WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC.

The purpose of this photography expedition was to show the world what is at stake. In 40 years we may lose the entire Amazon rainforest due to deforestation from logging, mining, cattle, soy and other reasons for the destruction.The theme of the exhibition was inspired by a documentary film, AMAZON GOLD, which premiered at the Hawaii International Film Festival. The 53 minute film, narrated by Sissy Spacek and Herbie Hancock, focuses on the universal value and intricate ecosystem of the Amazon rainforest, and brings to light the current environmental issues and destruction as a result of illegal gold mining in the Peruvian Amazon.

Abell and Nissen traveled to remote areas in the Peruvian and Bolivian Amazon from 2003 to 2007 to capture photographs of wildlife, insects, plants and extraordinary landscapes. At times they were accompanied by biologists who provided insight into exceptional encounters with species rarely seen. Through their lenses, we see images of life and species never before seen by the outside world. The range of life depicted, from butterflies and insects to monkeys, jaguars and macaws, down to the very foliage, beaches and trees reveal the significance of all creatures to the grander scheme of our planet's health. The photographs provide first-hand commentary and allow us to experience the challenges and epiphanies of the photographers' journeys and come to respect the power of the Amazon and its inestimable value to life on this planet.

Included in the exhibition were a series of fiber prints created by artist Bryan el Castillo within a body of artwork focused on the symbolic and literal meaning of endangered flora and fauna.

In Gallery III, a video installation by Maxi Cohen presented spectacular footage of Iguaçu Falls, a world wonder of 275 waterfalls along 1.67 miles on the border of Argentina and Brazil. Another series on view, "Specimens from the Amazon," included brief moments that are self contained, stories in their own minute world which invited the viewer to study a smaller context related to moving image and content.

In Gallery IV, images of the devastation caused by logging and illegal gold mining could be seen though the lens of award-winning photojournalist Ron Haviv who traveled to the Peruvian Amazon to document the man-made landscape. His journey captured mining pits and eerily barren landscapes which were once lush rainforest. A co-founder of the photo agency VII, Ron Haviv's work is published by magazines worldwide and included in museum and gallery exhibitions.