Alana Celii is a photographer and photo editor based in New York. She graduated from Parsons the New School for Design with her BFA in 2009. She has exhibited in the US and abroad, and will be attending a residency in Iceland in the fall.
PROJECT SPOTLIGHT: Paradise Falling
2013 – present
Did I actually reach out my arms
toward it, toward paradise falling, like
the fading of the dearest, wildest hope ---
the dark heart of the story that is all
the reason for its telling?
– Mary Oliver from “The Chance to Love Everything”
By observing and making imagery of the natural world around me, I have become a collector--I am gathering together images whose subjects are often scattered or widespread. Like Jazz, these images exist through improvisation, syncopation, and rhythm. Their meaning is developed through their own fluidity and abstraction. But also, this imagery is rooted in memory and my desire for the past to go away. Through organization and curation, I am able to redefine meaning and time.
When and where did Paradise Falling begin?
This project started while on a solo trip through New Mexico as a response to being tied to my job and the city. I hadn't driven in years, and I also hadn't left New York in a very long time. Standing in the middle of White Sands while the sun was setting felt like being on the moon. It was complete silence colored like a rainbow. I ate a lot of beef jerky from gas stations, and listened to bad 80s radio. It was strange to be alone and on the road, but the act of shooting was meditative for me. After that trip, I continued to make yearly solo shooting trips to different deserts in the Southwest. I realized I feel most at home alone in a hotel in the middle of the desert with no cell phone service.
Where do you see this project going?
Although in some ways this to me is a life long project, I eventually would like for this chapter to become a book paired with short stories.
What helps you sustain your current creative practice?
In my day job, I luckily get to look at a lot of photography. I like to spend my days off shooting, visiting galleries and museums, seeing movies, and exploring, if the weather is nice. However, my goal for this year is to really create a dedicate routine to allow myself more creative time in the morning before I have to go to my job. In an ideal world, I would write upon waking, stretch, and meditate before exiting into the daily chaos that is my commute to midtown.
What’s next for you?
I'll be attending a two week residency in Iceland in September. I would like to continue shooting and begin writing for the aforementioned book idea. Way down the line, my partner and I have been daydreaming about buying land upstate to build a live/work studio space that also hosts an artists residency.
What other artists should we be keeping an eye on?