Faces of Havana

I finally got a chance to go take a look at the beautiful photograpic work of Juan Xarlos Dominguez in an exhibit called Colleccion Habana at the Museo Archaeologia at the Chamizal. He has used digital photography to paint various scenes of Old and new Havana. Msinly what he shows us is humanity in dignity, in difficult situations, in the everyday, set in Havana. Often these sorts of photos are in black and white, but here the color works effectively. They provide an almost tactile sensation. There is a photo called la Zapatero et sus zapatos (Shoemaker and his shoes. The man is looking out of a corregated steel building or trailer. The corregated steel feels alive. The man looks desperate. He has one pair of boots on the shelf. The work is dated 2006, but the man has a calendar dated 2004 on the wall behind the boots. Of course, it could have been printed much later, but it makes an interesting counterpoint. 

There is a portrait of an older man sitting on a stoop reading Gramma, the official newspaper of Cuba. He has a cap which is tearing apart. He has a dignity which is unmistakeable. This is true of virtually all of these portraits. One could find people living in difficult situations everywhere-there are many places where the buildings are centruies old and the people are making do. But these happen to be in Cuba and it does not necessarily tell us everything about Cuba. It does give a face to the remarkable people who live there, and to the architecture, the old colonial buildings and some of the newer structures. It gives us a bit of a picture of daily life and it shows it with beauty and dignity.-david sokolec


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