She is Cuba
Richeille and I met on a photoshoot in 2005, she was the art director and I, the photographer. We fell in love and have been inseparable since. One of our first trips together was to Havana, Cuba. Here we discovered our common love for dance, music, wanderlust, and more importantly, our appreciation of the era and aesthetic that was the fifties.
Cuba is the epitome of a 1950's time capsule. The Cubans have 50 years waiting and nothing changes. A revolution – which began in good faith but strayed from the path little by little – became something totally different from what Cubans expected when it triumphed. A shipwreck of splendor and decay; a place were the passing decades have created a haunting landscape, both beautiful and serene.
We had always planned on returning and working on a photographic project that explored this sense of sadness and waiting. Destiny would have it and we returned in spring of 2014 after almost 10 years.
In Cuba's forbidden allure to North Americans, images from its sun-drenched streets have become all too familiar: old cars, even older musicians, colorful costumes and dour revolutionary slogans. Yet those tired images fail to capture how time has also stopped for many Cubans whose lives are a daily endless routine of figuring out how to resolve the problem of the moment.
Here amongst the crumbling walls of colonial architecture, the abandoned
cinemas and early Vegas-style casinos, the streets of old Havana and all the glory that once was, we wanted to create elegiac “cinema-graphs” and have the radiant Cuban heroine play out the open ended drama. The mise-en-scéne captures the twilight of the Castro era, the imminent change, the struggle, anxiety and hope.
Seeing the world through Cuban eyes was definitely inspiring and we hope our photographs can speak of beauty, despair and the waiting for the inevitable.
Formento & Formento
May 2014 New York City