Cuba 1999-2000

I lived in Havana between September 1999 and June 2000 as part of a Hispanic Studies degree. The only firm idea about what I wanted to do that year was to make photos that documented the time in a coherent way. These have long been most of a ‘definitive’ edit, but now that I think about it ‘my’ time there is hardly present. These now seem to be more a record of something else-a view and an idea of the place perhaps, and aspirations to a particular photographic style. I learned a lot about stuff I think, living over there- cooking rice & beans, the amazing fresh fruit of the Caribbean- mango, mamey, guanabana, how not to conduct long distance relationships, consumerism and the other side, drinking rum, the value of a good bicycle, lonliness, community, Englishness… the reductive list could go on; but through certain friendships and a slow acquaintance with the photographic black market that used to congregate outside the camera repair workshop on Galiano, through ‘jugando con el agua’ as Roberto, who I used to live, would wryly name the film developing I always seemed to be doing, and through long sweaty hours in the low immanent plaster shower of a darkroom I made above the kitchen, timing exposure with a wristwatch to my ear, on and off the enlarger lamp with a footswitch that came free with the crappy Kodak enlarger old Luis stung me for $50 for before I knew its scant value, bought from a decrepit old man named Amador (doing pressups while prints developed, I used to do 50 or 60, so I must have been skinny) and through looking, and fearing, and daring sometimes… I did learn a fair bit about photography.