16.03 - 06.05.2018
Ernesto Bazan. Cuban trilogy
In the fall of 1992, I made my first trip to Cuba, on a cheap week long package tour bought in Merida, Mexico.For many years I had strongly desired Cuba, as if longing for a woman that you meet only once and can’t get out of your mind. I’m almost certain I lived there in another life. Never could I have imagined that in Cuba I’d find my destiny, that over there a very important part of my existence both as a man and as a photographer had already been determined.
For fourteen years, I devoted my entire life taking pictures of this transitional time referred to by Fidel Castro as El Periodo Especial. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the country was sent reeling towards an uncertain future, leaving Cubans to face dire hardships and profound changes.
My first book Bazan Cuba portrays this unique period that the island was undergoing:the struggle to survive in a post-communist world. I began bearing witness to the strenuous situation created by these abrupt social changes. I began taking pictures of the pervasive feeling of hopelessness and despair that I saw painted on people’s faces. I photographed endless lines, the harrowing struggle to make it from one meal to the other, the poverty of their homes and the slipping sense of identity gripping their lives.
In spite of the suffering, Cubans have shown remarkable reserves of inner strength and patience. They engage life passionately, embracing its fundamental simplicity. I have portrayed their dignity, resourcefulness to cope, their love for children, their passion for music and dance, and the open religious fervor that has pervaded the island since the Pope John Paul the Second’s visit. In December of 1997, I made a stronger commitment to my personal life and my photographic project: I got married to Sissy, my Cuban fiancé. In September of 1998, she gave birth to our twins, Pietro and Stefano. She and my sons have become another source of inspiration. As a result of working from within instead of being a dispassionate observer looking in from the outside, my documentation has taken on an even more personal dimension.
From 1992 to 2001, I exclusively photographed in black and white with two different analogic 35 mm cameras (a Leica M6 and a Canon T-90). Then in 2002, I started shooting in color my farmer friends in the Cuban countryside. Knowing that I had color film inside the camera made me start paying more attention to simpler poetry of life. Al Campo wouldn’t have been possible without my passion for the farmers’ unadorned, and yet harsh daily life.
At the same time, I also began using a panoramic camera. Isla is more an all-encompassing book: intimate portraiture, street photography, pastoral landscapes, still life. The images are probably gentler, more meditative and metaphysical. If I could encapsulate each book in my trilogy in a few words:
Bazan Cuba: raw poetry.
Al Campo: belonging.
Isla: both a love affair and a valediction.
- Ernesto Bazan
Ernesto Bazan was born in Palermo, Italy. He received his first camera when he was fourteen year old and began photographing his native city and some rural areas of Sicily. Since then photography has been more than a profession: a true passion, a mission in his life. In 2002, Ernesto Bazan created his own photographic workshops providing special emphasis in Latin America. His personal and unique teaching skills have been providing a great source of inspiration to many of his students.
He’s the author of several books including: The Perpetual Past (1982), and Passing Through(1993). In 2008, he founded BazanPhotos Publishing with his students and began self-publishing his books that include BazanCuba (2008), Al Campo (2011), Isla (2014), and Before You Grow Up (2017). He has also helped some of his best students self-publish their books with BPP. He has won some of the world’s most prestigious photographic awards, among them the World Press Photo award, the W. Eugene Smith Grant, and fellowships from the Alicia Patterson Foundation and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
His photographs have been exhibited in Europe, Latin America, and the United States and remain in private and permanent collections including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the International Center for Photography, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Biblioteque Nationale in Paris, France.
WORKSHOPS WITH ERNESTO BAZAN
The Fort Institute of Photography invites to take part in photography workshops with Ernesto Bazan and Tomasz Tomaszewski. More information about workshops here.
The Exhibition is sponsored by Holiday Inn Warszawa Józefów ****