25 DE NOVIEMBRE - PhMuseum

25 DE NOVIEMBRE

Ernesto Bazan

2016 - Ongoing

On the 4th of July, 2006 my family and I were forced out of Cuba after spending fourteen years there where I was simply living and taking pictures.

A few months after our departure, I discovered that I had also become persona non grata and was not allowed back. During all that time I thought that Cuba was a closed chapter in my life!

One morning in 2015, my wife Sissy surprised me by saying that she had just had a dream and that I could return. Being also a very pragmatic lady, she decided to double check with the Cuban authorities. They confirmed that it was true and that I was welcome back.

It took me more than a year to process the new information before deciding to return.

I was scared and anxious.

On July 14th, 2016 (Bastille Day) accompanied by a small group of friends I went back, exactly 10 years and 10 days later.

Upon arrival despite the initial joy of being back, I realized that my mental wounds were still wide open. It didn’t seem that much had changed.

I timidly began reacting to this new opportunity by taking pictures again. I continued taking pictures with film, although

From this initial trip others followed including at the end of November of 2016 when their historic leader passed away on the 25th.

Once again, at the urging of my beloved wife Sissy, I went back.

For the first time in my life I arrived at night and while riding the taxi I began seeing a new Havana full of new photographic possibilities.

Unless you watched the news on TV, wandering around the city it was hard to see signs that Fidel Castro had died. Life was unfolding as usual with Cuban trying to go about their daily struggle, making do the best they could. Very little had changed.

I continued, once again photographing the daily life unfolding before my eyes as in the old times: the only difference being that I had aged and my vision had changed!

My project the 25 DE NOVIEMBRE is a sort of eulogy to their leader and to the Cubans both dead and alive! Ultimately the pictures show how I feel about them, and how I feel about myself returning after a ten-year exile.

For the first time and unlike the trilogy that I self-published in the past about Cuba (Bazan Cuba, 2008, Al Campo, 2011, and Isla, 2014), my photographs have a different look and taste and, for the first time, I feel the necessity to combine different photographic genres within the same project. Besides taking images both with a 35 mm range finder camera and a panoramic camera, I’ve been using a digital one, the iPhone, and I’ve even been taking color images in the studio of found objects intuitively picked from the street, including a metal coke bottle, completely smashed and worn out (not sold on the island, which to me subtly conveys the brief opening of the Obama era).

As I keep returning to the island, the words of Rose Kennedy ring true within me:” It has been said that time heals all wounds. I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind protecting its sanity covers them with scar tissues and the pain lessens, but it is never gone.”

Through photography I’m ultimately doing so!

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