Apertura: Photography in Cuba Today - Page 25

One of them is more real and the other more illusory, but it is hard to say which one is which. from abroad or who work in the tourism industry and earn hard currency (including perhaps jineteras) from those who do not, a division that, in practice, means that Cubans have different degrees of freedom and even citizenship. In the works of both Villares and Delgado, photography provides a setting. The drama occurs in the intervention. In both cases, the image would not work by letting photography do what it always does: capture the reality present in front of the lens. There is no lens wide enough to capture what is absent. In both cases, the comment on Cuba is only in part a comment on the medium itself. The failure of photography to capture desire and anxiety cannot be attributed solely to the exhaustion of the medium, but rather to the fact that reality is full of holes. The intervention does not operate in terms of the added element questioning the photograph, but rather in the way they together explore a fantasy. Liudmila + Nelson One of the first things tourists note about Havana is the lack of advertising. With the exception of a few billboards sporting revolutionary slogans and photographs of a very young Fidel Castro, the city is completely deprived of publicity. In their series Hotel Habana Series (p. 38) the duo of artists Liudmila + Nelson (est. 1993), composed of Liudmila Velasco (b. 1969, Russia) and Nelson Ramírez de Arellano (b. 1969, Germany), play with this aspect of the city. Their images, however, are about both fantasy and the passing of time. This is how Liudmila + Nelson work: First, they find in the archives an old image of a Havana street scene that is in the public domain (it probably helps that Nelson is the director of the Fototeca de Cuba, the National Gallery of Photography). Then, they locate the same spot in the city where the photograph was originally taken and take new photographs, trying to recreate the archival image as much as possible. After that, the artists digitally superimpose advertising (Coca Cola, Hard Rock Café, MTV, and the like) that reflects Cubans’ fantasies and fears about the future. The whole process usually takes months. The image itself is a complex operation that is dominated by the superposition of two temporal stages onto the same space. One of them intervenes in the other, recontextualizing the other without erasing it. One of them is more real and the other more illusory, but it is hard to say which one is which. In addition, a world of advertisement, currently non-existent, is added digitally, alluding perhaps to a non-distant future. The word “Revolution,” cast in the logo of Coca Cola, suggests the commodification of the utopian project that has already taken place. Likewise, the super19