Cuba increasingly exhibits its culture to be rich with extraordinary contrasts. Education and the arts are characterized by progressive innovation in spite of an economy deeply hindered by a complex of political realities. Renovated palaces coexist with colonial ruins, and the loss of opportunity is countered with seemingly unmitigated hope. A heightened sense of community historically reflects the fact that Cuba has needed much stamina in the wake of a changing socialist dialogue now leading to a new internationalism.
U.S. photographer Charles Anselmo initially traveled to Cuba in 2000 to photograph the forms and layered patinas offered by the capital’s architecture. As a fine art photographer working in the United States, he has had the opportunity to visit Cuba twelve times over the course of the last nine years, each time continuing with the development of ongoing projects focused upon theses of urban relevance. The result of personal contacts with many of the island’s best-known living photographers, Island Cuba is an exhibition of work by Cuban photographers now living in Havana.
In returning to Havana just recently for the purpose of collecting black and white images for a new group exhibition, Anselmo met with established photographer Enrique de la Uz to view darkroom prints that would establish the platform for a new group show more germane to the provocations, intentionalities, and identities of the Cuban photographic community as presented now within its modern historical context. He spoke with Lissette Solarzano, active in the Union of Cuban Writers and Artists, about the inclusion of her own work, and remains in her debt for key suggestions pertaining to the scope of the images and other essential details. The remaining photographers who have generously offered work for inclusion in this exhibition project are Mario Diaz and Pedro Abascal, both well known to followers of Latin American photography. All work in black and white, and as a group represent three distinct sociopolitical generations of Cuban photographic art.