Portfolio Category - Portrait Awards 2014
Behind Open Doors
Trapped between traditional society and modernity, Cuba is a country caught in its own history. The common clichés of 1950 automobiles and crumbling architecture have all reinforced a stereotype of Cuba as a vestige of the cold war, where ghosts of the past still haunt the present. A lack of knowledge and understanding of the country’s historical narrative have added to an unbalanced view of Cuba as a tormented purgatory. This perspective ignores the legacies of colonial empire and hegemonic governance whose influence still pertain today.
The portraits from this series document people of Cuba in their home environment and capture scenes that are reflective of their character not normally seen. One becomes aware that these people still retain family values and a richness of life that would appear to be disappearing in the more affluent western societies. Families are tight knit groups as they share rooms or houses in close proximity. Rooms can be quite small and are in contrast on some occasions to the relatively more grandiose old colonial structures. Family units often consist of grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, teens and children. They support each other in such a way as to create a culture of emotional trust and security. This mutual cooperation and care became evident as they invited me into their homes and displayed a patience and ease as I went about my work. The strength of any country is in its people and despite over fifty years of sanctions as well the hardships experienced during the Special Period the Cuban people are resilient as well as having dignity and spirit.