In this unusual photobook, part photo scrapbook and part personal journal, Vincent Delbrouck (or V.D. as he's known) turns the camera on his life and loves in the Cuban city of Havana.

The book, subtitled "poetic documentary versus dirty realism" is certainly an odd mixture. Intensely personal, it combines snapshots of streets, interiors, friends and lovers, with lengthy writings, brief commentary captions and poetry in French and Spanish. The result is a weird amalgam, and it's hard to know exactly where to place it.

Delbrouck purports to have gone beyond our preconceptions about Havana to approach some kind of truth about young people's lives in the final years of Castro.

His work certainly touches on important themes of socio-realism and the meaning of photography. However, he doesn't fully explore the issues he raises, and neither is the book truly personal: there are moments of intimacy and comedy, but they don't expand into the transcendent or universal. It's a worthy attempt, but a little self-indulgent for our tastes.

— Zoë Fargher / Jim Casper




Beyond History: Havana 1998 – 2006
Photographs by Vincent Delbrouck

Publisher: Bold Publishing (Amsterdam)
210 pages

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