“The mind is its own place and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” — John Milton, Paradise Lost.
Parallel Pictures Press presents New York PARADISE LOST Bushwick Era Disco, Meryl Meisler’s new book that will launch with exhibits at ClampArt and The Center for Photography at Woodstock. New York PARADISE LOST Bushwick Era Disco is an intimate journey to the pandemonium and paradise of the 1970s through early 1990s New York City. Meryl documented a tumultuous time in NYC’s history – epidemics of arson, crime, crack, and AIDS, intensified by a pa alyzing blackout, political and fiscal crisis. Frequenting Manhattan’s legendary discos that arose amongst disorder, she captured hedonistic havens, celebrities, and revelers of the night. In contrast, daylight revealed the beauty of those who loved and thrived in burnt-out Bushwick, where she was a public school art teacher who photographed what she saw.
Her effervescent images are personal memoir – love letters filled with compassion and humor mixed with angst, kept secret for decades until she retired from teaching. Meryl was headed to Studio54 the night of the ‘77 Blackout; the next day, she and the world heard of Bushwick, a hellish neighborhood where fires and looting erupted. In 2013, at BIZARRE, a Bushwick Drag / Burlesque Nightclub, she noticed a disco ball in the restroom, another over the dance floor. OMG – an epiphany! Bushwick was now THE sizzling club scene. The disparate worlds of Bushwick and Disco collided, becoming intertwining strands of NYC’s story and her journey. She realized the two bodies of work belonged together.
Meryl’s internationally acclaimed books, A Tale of Two Cities Disco Era Bushwick (2014) and Purgatory & Paradise SASSY ‘70s Suburbia & The City (2015) were just tips of the iceberg. She kept digging into her archive, finding hidden treasures. New York PARADISE LOST Bushwick Era Disco takes a unique turn, from clandestine clubs into the classroom – students and staff creating a safer space to learn despite societal ills of poverty and prejudice. Her street photos radiate the joys of daily life amidst hardship. The nightlife images expose the edgiest, darkest activities she has ever shown. Flash forward four decades: Bushwick is a hub of new music, art, fashion, literature, nightlife, and creative thinking. Many bemoan the gentrification of neighborhoods like Bushwick. There are nostalgia and sorrow for what’s lost in the process of change.
New York PARADISE LOST Bushwick Era Disco shows that people can find calm amid chaos, rediscover and rebuild. It resonates today as communities worldwide struggle to cope and recover from the pandemic. New York PARADISE LOST Bushwick Era Disco is a true story of the resilient human spirit – determination to preserve, revitalize, appreciate, and create anew.
Meryl Meisler : Paradise Lost – Bushwick Era Disco
Parallel Pictures Press
130 duotones, 132 color photos
June 3 – July 9, 2021
Opening Reception and Book Signing Sat., June 5th, 2021 | 2:00 – 7 p.m.
247 W. 29 St. NY, NY, 10001 ground floor
The Center for Photography at Woodstock
July 3 – August 15, 2021
Book Signing – Sat. July 3 & Sun. July 4 | 12 – 2 p.m. 59 Tinker Street, Woodstock, NY 12498