Final Havana Photographs

The negatives from Havana are finally scanned. In the end I kept about thirty eight photographs for my files, and then will store the negatives for that mythical time when I might want to look back on the work with new eyes. Overall, Havana was one of the most important adventures I have taken. I know that going before American capitalism takes root in the next year was critical, not only for being able to see the decay and entropy of Old Havana before it is Disneyfied for tourists, but also because the city opened my eyes to the historical theories of communism, revolutionary art,  and a place where the people could innovate with what they had.

Like Japan, Cuba has its own colour palette. The blues, greens, pinks and reds were vibrant, yet faded, in a way that really captured my eye. The lockers in the image above were part of a building being gutted in Habano Centro. This area was well beyond where your average tourist walked, but I always felt safe rambling down back streets in Havana. Unlike Delhi or Cairo, people were not hustling tourists too hard; but then again, V. and I were not exactly the average-looking tourist who might be fooled on a scam, so perhaps we have just graduated beyond the easy hustle.

As I read Che Guevara’s Guerilla Warfare this weekend, watch Gonzo: The Hunter S. Thompson Story and think more intently on the idea of the class struggle, I cannot help but wonder where Canada fits into the world structure. With China threatening to stop certain raw material exports, India constantly insisting that it is ready for this century, and America embedding itself deeper into the Afghan-Pakastani-Iraq arena, I feel a certain pressure to see more of the world before it closes shop and isolationist movements take hold again. While many people laugh at such concerns in our “global economy”, China has closed its doors many times to the outside world and will again if it intends on engaging in war to gain access to the resources it needs. My goal of traveling to China in August 2011 seems feasible, but time will tell where the world is then.

I am not one who likes pictures of buildings. It seems that I snap them every now and then just to get a sense of the bigger architecture around me in the places I travel. This church in Havana was a nice place to avoid the blinding sun at noon, but going in just did not seem that appealing. The Spanish architectural influence is clear, but I never felt connected to the style.

I have a wicked head cold. It must be the combination of changing weather, contact with my students, and exhaustion from work initiatives. The fuzzy-headedness has kept me inside for most of the weekend, but I bought a beautiful striploin on the bone from Oliffe butchery last night on the way home. Ironically, it was sourced from Prince Edward Island. As you can see from the image above, it was a glorious piece of meat. What made me sad, however, was that the best cuts of meat or fish from my home province are totally unavailable there; the best quality products are shipped to Toronto for those with the money to buy them. In this case I spent $37 for a steak. Was it worth it? Undeniably. The meat was clean tasting, well-marbled and delicate. The fact that it was grass-fed and produced on a small scale drove the cost up, but given that I will make two meals from it and that I am trying to eat less meat, but of better quality, it seems reasonable to me.  Still, why should Islanders not have the privilege of eating the best food their farmers produce? I am sure that Marx, Castro and Che might have some ideas.

On the commercial front I have a few irons in the fire for exhibit/publication, but won’t mention those until some solid information comes through. I also have a large scale shoot for Paderno arriving any day now. Let’s just hope the head cold leaves sooner rather than later.

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One response to “Final Havana Photographs

  1. I am incredibly jealous of your trip to Cuba. Both of my parents are Cuban, but I was born in the states, and I have had to go by only my abuelos’ stories my entire life.

    I’m currently a student, and I’m working on a book about the cars in Cuba, and am currently doing as much research as possible before I begin to write, so that’s how I came across your blog. Beautiful shots, and I loved your anecdotes. Thank you for sharing them with us!

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