“¡Yo soy Fidel!”: Post-Castro Cuba and the Cult of Personality | Article + exhibition + photo-essay film (2019)
After the end of the Castro brothers’ near six decade-long leadership of Cuba in 2018, two years after Fidel Castro’s death, this project explores the presence of iconic revolutionary images in contemporary Cuban society and themes such as the relationship between photographic language and identity. Drawing on fieldwork and practice-led research, the accompanying exhibition will include images taken by both Cuban and renowned foreign photographers. This project is fully funded by the AHRC as part of the Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies (MEITS) project based at the University of Cambridge.
Book: Aesthetics and the Revolutionary City: Real and Imagined Havana (2018) engages in alternative ways of reading foreign visual representations of Havana through analysis of advertising images, documentary films, and photographic texts. It explores key narratives relating to the projection of different Havana imaginaries and focuses on a range of themes including: pre-revolutionary Cuba; the dream of revolution; and the metaphor of the city “frozen-in-time.” The book also synthesizes contemporary debates regarding the notion of Havana as a real and imagined city space and fleshes out its theoretical insights with a series of stand-alone, important case studies linked to the representation of the Cuban capital in the Western imaginary. The interpretations in the book bring into focus a range of critical historical moments in Cuban history (including the Cuban Revolution and the “Special Period”) and consider the ways in which they have been projected in advertising, documentary film and photography outside the island.
Exhibition: Memories of a Lost Shark (2013-14) is a series of black and white photographs and written texts. The correspondence between these invites the spectator to enter a conversation with both photographer and writer in an act of imaginative solidarity with the actors taking centre stage in each of these images – an engagement that allows still photographs to become as fluid as Cuban history. Extracts from this project can be seen by clicking on the projects tab above. [Photographs by James Clifford Kent and words by Edmundo Desnoes, with an introduction by John Perivolaris]
Photography; Documentary; Portraiture; Visual Culture; Space and Place; Latin America; Havana; Cuba.
PUBLICATIONS & EXHIBITIONS
Aesthetics & the Revolutionary City: Real and Imagined Havana [Monograph, Palgrave Macmillan: Studies of the Americas series, 2018]
'Havana and the Music Film (1999-2005)' [Journal article, Hispanic Research Journal, Volume: 18, Issue: 01, pp. 74-91, 2017]
'Walker Evans’s Psychogeographic Mapping of Havana, 1933' [Journal article, History of Photography, Volume: 37, Issue: 03, pp. 326-340, 2013]
This is Cuba: Documentary Photography after Fidel [group exhibition]
Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, England (29 April 2018–23 June 2019)
Memories of a Lost Shark | Memorias de un tiburón perdido [solo exhibition, with the Cuban writer Edmundo Desnoes]
Instituto Cervantes, Manchester, England (17 October 2013–28 February 2014) [funded by Arts Council England]
Galería Fayad Jamis: Centro de Arte y Literatura, Havana, Cuba (1-24 July 2013)
Oriel Colwyn, Colwyn Bay, North Wales (1-21 June 2013)
'Fidel Castro: Immortalised in Photographs' [Online photo-essay. 2016. The Independent, 20 December 2016].
'Fidel Castro: Immortalised in Photographs' [Online photo-essay. 2016. The Conversation, 16 December 2016].
'Found in Translation: A transatlantic dialogue' [Journal article, Royal Photographic Society: Contemporary Photography, Number 57, Autumn 2014, Julia García Hernández, pp. 35-37]
'Memorias de un recorrido aprovechado' [TV broadcast, Cubavisión International, Alfonso Roque, 15 July 2013]