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(MDSSA) The Paradise Project 

The Paradise Project is a micro-project undertaken by Rachel Rozanski as part of the “Mobilizing disability survival skills for the urgencies of the Anthropocene” (MDSSA) Project funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grant (PI, Arseli Dokumaci). 

A paradise garden is a style of walled garden with Iranian origins, the word paradise itself loosely meaning “enclosed park”. Derived from the garden of Eden and the concept of “nature without threat”, it is  typically made up of manicured grounds that feature constructed waterways. 

This MDSSA project critically examines environmental naturalization projects as they relate to the concept of “paradise gardens” through the documentation of bodies and objects that occupy land in transition. It will include the perspectives of multiple disabled artists examining different revitalization “paradise projects”, questioning how historical and contemporary pictures of nature and health influence the environment in the Anthropocene.  

My current contribution to this project is focused on the Toronto Port Lands, which is toxic land built up out of industrial waste on Lake Ontario. Its waterways are being rerouted and the land is being converted into a mixed-use “waterfront paradise”. I am documenting the changing populations that use this space as it transforms, and the objects being removed in the excavation process. This project weaves together history, mythology and fantasy, exploring the potential for more caring futures through the overlap of accessibility and regenerative sustainability.