Wednesday, February 26, 2014

We Interrupt this Broadcast

of Ann's trip to Cuba to report some super-fabulous news!  Before she sent to Cuba, she submitted some work to the 6th edition of the Julia Margaret Cameron Award.  Today she got an email saying that she is a finalist and is invited to exhibit her work in the 3rd International Biennial of Fine Art and Documentary Photography which will open on September 18th, 2014 running until November 9th, 2014, at the Municipal Museum of Malaga, Spain, the home city of Picasso.  To say Ann is grateful and over the moon is an understatement.  She's currently scheming to get to Spain in September for the artists' reception.  Here is the image that will be exhibited.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Jose Marti and Me

OK, so it wasn't the Jose Marti that is considered one of Cuba's biggest political heroes for political independence from Spain, but I did get to meet this Jose Marti, an artist who was very open about welcoming a crowd of photographers into his studio.

Here is some of his work:

Love the manikin hand with one blue fingernail that served as his door handle.  Wish the language issue had not been there.  But with that and the 10 other photographers with me, it was a circus really. 

This was the start of our first morning in Havana.  Marti's studio was on the way to a national consortium of different genres of dance companies all sharing a building for rehearsal and admin space getting government support. We were allowed into a ballet class to shoot, but it had its challenges with the mirrors on two sides and other photographers trying to get that perfect shot.

This woman had one leg of her dance pants cut off with a leg warmer on it.

This woman, 2nd from right, reminded me of a young Judith Jameson who used to dance with the Alvin Ailey Dance Co in NY and later when on to lead the company when Ailey passed.

Talk about technique, this beautiful dancer could have done anything because she also had the most amazing presence.
I even got a chance to hoist a leg onto the ballet bar and was reminded of how I was booted out of a class by the Prima of the Boston Ballet back in the early 70s for improvising during the movement patterns across the floor.  I was so much a big mouth modern dancer back in the day.

Then it was on to a senior "day care" center that is part of a new program in Havana to help seniors cope with loneliness when the rest of the family is working and going to school during the day.  Many of the ladies were using paper to make flowers while most of the men were playing dominoes.

One woman was not into making flowers but was playing with the guys.

After an amazing lunch at the restaurant at the Musee de Beaux Artes, I had a wonderful seafood brochette with (of course) a mojito, we were off to an old theatre in a different part of town to work with members of a contemporary dance company.  More on that in the next post.  Wish I had taken more photos of the museum itself which is a gem and used to be the Spanish Club before the revolution. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

I Left my Heart in Old Havana

While the excitement of the new wasn't there when I first arrived in Havana with the folks from the Santa Fe Photo Workshops (SFPW), there was a sense of familiarity and fondness with returning this year.  The excitement did return when I heard about the dance troupes we were going to be able to photograph that Our Man in Havana, Kip Brundage, had scored for the group that was headed up by Elizabeth Opalenik.  While the bus took us to the same spot for lunch after our charter landed in Havana and herded us back on the bus to the same hotel, that was OK as the restaurant served good food (chicken, beans and rice) and the hotel - Parke Centrale - is nice although their wireless internet sucks the big one.  I'm not even sure if you could buy a prepaid Cuban wireless and if it's similar to DSL service in the states.  But as Reid Callahan, Jefe of the SFPW continues to remind us, "It's Cuba, it's complicated".

After getting to our rooms and unpacking, we met in the lobby and walked over to the Cuban Art Museum for a cash bar cocktail hour and then an introduction to our Cuban photographers who were to be our guides along with the official "red shirts", the Cuban government tourism agency guides.  This intro included slide shows and videos from Opalenik as well as Tony Bonnano, who was also leading a group exploring Cuban art and music.  The work of our Cuban photographer guides was truly amazing - a look at Cuba from Cuban eyes and hearts.

Courtyard of the most excellent Cuban Art Museum - go there if you get a chance

Roach on the wall, DJ at work and flowers

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ai Wei Wei: According to What?

I'm so glad that I booked an extra day in Miami to have lunch with my friend David Cool as well as see the Ai Wei Wei show at the fancy new Perez Museum there.
There we are standing in front of Wei Wei's Dog Head sculpture outside, part of his Chinese Astrology Series.
There were many old photos of him from his days in New York and his days in China.  This is the first ever North American tour of his work and I urge you to see it if it comes to a museum near you.  Perhaps because I've been a Question Authority person most of my life, his work appeals to me and because it's also filled with compassion.  I thought I had taken more photos of his photos but can't put my finger on them now. 

But here is what first got him in trouble with Chinese authorities

 He formed a group called the Citizen's Investigative project right after the May 12, 2008,  7.9-magnitude earthquake hit Szechuan Province.  Over 5,000 names of school children and others are listed on the wall and in front of the wall, rods of rebar taken from the wreckage.

How could I not add my finger?  Wish it was in front of Congress rather than the White House.

Marble Surveillance Camera 2010
Since we now know that our every move is being scrutinized by the NAS at least in our cyberspace lives, this object has resonance for those of us supposedly living in a democracy, albeit one that is becoming more and more controlled my major corporations who are controlling congress.

He is one of the bravest artists in our century who creates thoughtful, witty projects like this installation of river crabs

He calls this He Xie, which literally means river crab in Chinese but is a homophone for the word harmony, used in the Communist Party slogan.  The term He Xie has now become internet slang for government censorship.  If you click here, it will take you to his website.