Havana, Cuba

  • I've arrived in Havana one day before New Years Eve on the week of the 50-year anniversary of the Revolution, determined and excited to photograph the festivities. But there was no celebration; the city streets on January 31 st were quiet and empty. The next morning, I walked out of the carefully maintained and contained environment of the Havana Vieja tourist epicenter into the city itself. Just a step beyond El Capitolio, the streets appeared to have been bombed the night before. Incredible 18th century colonial Spanish architecture, heavy under peeling coats of vivid color, was crumbling to its death. The world-famous vintage cars were more of an oddity in the roads crammed with Soviet Ladas and Zhigulis, barely driving, filling the air with exhaust fumes. For the next few days, I strolled through the city aimlessly, sometimes in circles, sometimes ending up in leafy parks, other times stumbling upon pockets of cheerful art blocks, alive with graffiti and bustle.
    I have tried not to focus on thecars and the buildings; I have stripped the city of color. I photographed the people, enjoying great weather, playing cards, listening to music and turning an occasional curious eye towards my camera. A tourist in an unfamiliar territory,I  have never felt more comfortable photographing on the streets. My camera seemed welcomed.
    The very short time I have spent in Havana was one of the most intense experiences of my travels abroad. The incredible energy and warmth of the people and the striking devastation of what was once a fantastically beautiful city created a dissonance that I am still struggling with more then 3 years later. These photographs are not an attempt to expose Havana, they are but a glimpse of the city, a casual stroll through a foreign environment, a visual exploration of one of the most fascinating places I have visited.