Dateline Johannesburg: Tuesday, 28 February With Rob arriving tomorrow from Toronto, and moving house on Friday – not to mention my workload – there will be little time over the next week or ten days for photography and blogging. So I thought I should get in early, and schedule a post for Sunday: (almost) my last post of images from Havana. I have one more series of images in mind, of Havana’s Malecon, the 8 km esplanade that runs from the harbour mouth in Old Havana along the coast to Vedado. And, when I have time, I will set up […]
Almost on her way, is our Rob, to Johannesburg, South Africa. She leaves Toronto on Tuesday, arriving at O.R. Tambo International by way of Schiphol at ten Wednesday night. Thursday she can rest; Friday we move house! If you look in the rear-view mirror of this Habana taxi, you can see her – seems a fitting image, in all sorts of crazy adventurous ways, for this next phase of our journey.
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 – […]
There is more to Havana than just Habana Vieja: and there are a lot more images to process and – geez, if I were more pretentious than I like to think I am – ‘curate.’ But before I move on – to art deco suburban architecture, 50s cars and cinemas, the melancholy drama of the Malecon – there is (for now, anyway) a final set of images of the old town to be posted. As with the last post, I’ve done these in colour: much as I love black and white, the way it reveals, caresses, form and texture, you […]
You visit Havana, you don’t want to be just a nosy outsider, a tactless tourist, a peeping voyeur – and yet, the place is so different, both in the world that you see before you and in the things you can’t see, but know or imagine are there, that your senses stand on tiptoe to peer into stairwells, catch glimpses of interiors when the doors or the windows lean open. So I took a few photos, of doors and stairwells – not too many, just a few – which I thought I would share with you. They are, if you like, […]
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.
Havana is like no other place I have been to, too layered, complex, brave, catastrophic – too much human experience compacted into one decaying, living, breathing city – to write about or photograph easily. And now that we are back in safe, sane, organized, clean Toronto, we are back also in the mode of ‘planification’ – preparing for tomorrow’s farewell party, preparing for my departure for South Africa on Wednesday – and in a place where meditation, thought, writing, and the making of images – not to mention figuring out what to even think about an astonishing city – must […]