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Shifting Tides

Shifting Tides: Cuban Photography after the Revolution
CHICAGO  •  Museum of Contemporary Photography  •  Ongoing
Shifting Tides: Cuban Photography after the Revolution is an exhibition that seeks to address this misperception of the nature of Cuban photography. Organized into three sections with a prologue gallery, the exhibition will elucidate the shifting social, political, and personal concerns that have fueled the artistic expression of artists using photography over the past 40 years in Cuba. Included in the show are iconic photographs made by important photographers of the revolution’s military struggle such as Korda and Osvaldo Salas. In fact, the single most identifiable example of Cuban photography is Alberto Díaz Gutiérrez (Korda)'s photograph of Che Guevarra, stoically looking beyond the camera's gaze into the future. It is a symbol of the toppling of the Batista regime, the revolutionary ethic of the period, and of Cuba itself. To many who live outside Cuba, it forms the visual and conceptual definition of all Cuban photography. These images reflect the heroic personalities of the revolution and establish a baseline from which three generational shifts in the conception and uses of photography can be traced.

The photographers of the first generation extended the heroic representations of earlier photographers. Instead of fostering the cult of the great personalities such as Che and Fidel, however, this new generation concentrated its efforts on the new hero of the revolution, the common man. Photographers such as Enrique de la Uz, Ivan Cañas, Rigoberto Romero, María Eugenia Haya (Marucha), and José Alberto Figueroa are featured in this section.

The concerns of the second generation photographers are reflected in images that are intensely introspective and insular. Their primary sphere of investigation is that of the domestic realities of the aftermath of the revolution—the cycles and obstacles of everyday life. This new approach to image making borrows from a pervasive Latin American magic realist impulse expressed through an Afro-Cuban cosmological vocabulary. Rogelio López Marín (Gory), Juan Carlos Alóm, Marta María Pérez Bravo, and José Manuel Fors are featured in this section. All were schooled through revitalized state-supported arts institutions; they reflect a broadened internationalized perspective of art making and photography.

The current generation of artists is distinctive for many reasons, not the least of which is their status of having never lived in a pre-Castro Cuba. Their art must be viewed through an awareness of the artist within an international art dialogue tempered by the organic flow of the Cuban cultural, political, and socio-economic structure. In so doing, the last generation, which includes Pedro Abascal, Manuel Piña, Carlos Garaicoa, Abigail González, and Ernesto Leal, sketches a radically new conception of Cuba as a site of truly integrated personal and collective identities. They are working with a visual language that is at once both sophisticated and highly conceptual. Employing lush color as well as traditional black-and-white images, mixed media, and installation, these artists provide a commentary on the current state of life and art on the island.

Contact: Tel: (1) 312 663 55 54

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