The Vedado end of the eight-or-so kilometre Malecon in Havana has a very different feel to it, from the more grandly built-up and fortified stretch toward the harbour mouth. Crumbling apartment buildings face across the dual carriageway, and the sea that crashes coldly into the rocks seems a metaphor for isolation and banishment. People sit on the battered sea-wall, or stare in vain at the horizon, as if waiting for something – the future? – to appear. Here is a final set of images.
I thought I was done with my Havana portfolio, but I’m not – at least not yet. I had planned, this morning, to pull up a final set of images of the Malecon for processing, but decided to go through the complete file, just in case – and came up with these photos instead, which I hope you will agree deserve a life of their own. After this past ten days in South Africa – a midnight reshuffle of the Cabinet, two ratings downgrades to junk status, by Standard & Poors and Fitch, after protests against Zuma all across the […]
The Bosque de La Habana tells you something about the city. A patch of shady woodland along the banks of the Rio Almedares, it is crossed at one end by a picturesque stone bridge. Drawn by the bridge, and the shade, and the river below, the open Chevies and Buicks in their bright colours gather, with their cargoes of tourists. But the bridge is crumbling, the grotto is littered, the stream a stinking grey intestine. The drivers pull in, nonetheless, and the assembly of vintage automobiles, and the luxuriant foliage, and the scattered light filtering through the leaves and branches, make it […]
Your upcoming post this weekend will feature the cars of Havana – cars which are not just cars, but markers and expressions of a society, an economy, a particular history. This Chevy truck is not a car, obviously – but deserves a place, perhaps, as a kind of precursor or foreword. No matter how glamorous, how retro, the car in Havana – like the truck, the motorcycle with sidecar, the crazy coco-taxi – is a workhorse. Keep an eye on your inbox.
So I have come to the end of a week in Cape Town – a round of project inception meetings with officials and academics, dinners out with my 85 year old mother or quiet evenings at home watching The Crown on Netflix, calls on FaceTime to my wife in Toronto, and – stealing a few moments here and there – working on my photos from Havana. And so it is, I guess, that we inhabit multiple places, multiple eras. Echoes of ‘radical economic transformation,’ from this week’s State of the Nation address, provide a ghostly, sardonic music to accompany the photos – […]
Cuba’s history, of course – by which I mean only its modern history, which we can date back to the first Spanish warships, sailing off the island in the late 1400s – long predates the Revolution. As Richard Gott explains, in his dry but absorbing Cuba, A New History (published in 2004) there has always been trouble: privateers, conquistadores, slavery, wars and coups, poverty and excess, rebellions and the mafia pock-mark the narrative like bullet-holes in a wall. Visiting Havana, in this sense, means descending into an archeological dig. At the surface is the Revolution, with its heroic moment, followed by […]
Once more to Havana…. So far, I’ve tried not to fall into the trap that the English novelist George Eliot described more than a hundred years ago: seeing other people’s misery as ‘picturesque.’ I’ve described, and shown, the Hotel Inglaterra, posted images of the magnificent Grand Theatre and other architectural triumphs, monuments and renovations, and avoided overt comment on – well, on the dark side of Havana. By which I mean, not its flawed grandeur, or its magnificent decay, but its political system. In a word: communism. Because one of the things you can’t help noticing is the drab, dreary, official lexicon of […]
Because it is a popular cliche to see in Havana only what is strange and exotic, ‘a magnificent ruin,’ one task of the visiting photographer – the photographer who is a traveller, not a tourist, a humanitarian, not a voyeur – is to reveal something of that city’s other nature: magnificent restorations, as in the Habana Grand Theatre, Art Deco masterpieces in the form, for example, of the Edificio Bacardi – the Bacardi Building – the intricate, ornate balconies and arches of another era. With this in mind, here are a few images.