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"Shifting Tides: Cuban Photography after the Revolution"
2001-04-15 until 2001-07-01
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Los Angeles, CA,
LACMA exhibits revealing work by three generations of Cuban photographers
that highlights the continuing and extraordinary achievements of Cubas artistic
community, as well as the social and political changes in Castros Cuba.
Shifting Tides: Cuban Photography after the Revolution, organized in three
sections with a prologue gallery, includes more than 100 poignant
black-and-white and color photographs.
Certain photographs transcend the circumstances of their making. They
become emblematic of an era, of a generation, or of a geographic place.
Dorothea Lange’s 1936 photograph Migrant Mother has attained mythic status
and become visually synonymous with the Depression and the migration of
Dust Bowl refugees to California. The raising of the flag on Iwo Jima as
portrayed by Joe Rosenthal was immediately recognized as the essence of the
experience of World War II and of the heroism and patriotic verve of those
Americans who served. One danger with this type of branding is that it tends
to foster the conception that all photography of a period reflects the same
ideological grounding of the lone iconic image; another consequence of
branding is that the image becomes the benchmark against which subsequent
images of the period or place are measured.
Such is the case with Guerillero Heroico by Alberto Díaz Gutiérrez (Korda).
Kordas image was taken on the occasion of a memorial service for victims of a
maritime explosion in Havana harbor. The image captures a sullen and
pensive Che Guevara stoically looking beyond the cameras gaze as if into the
distance, into the future. It has become emblematic not only of the revolution
that toppled the previous Batista regime but also of the revolutionary ethic of
the period and of Cuba itself. The image became the single most identifiable
example of Cuban photography, and for many it continues to define in visual
as well as conceptual terms all photography produced in Cuba. Shifting
Tides: Cuban Photography after the Revolution is an exhibition that seeks to
address this misperception of the nature of Cuban photography. The exhibition
will elucidate the shifting social, political, and personal concerns that have
fueled the artistic expression of artists using photography over the past 40
years in Cuba.
One of the reasons I did Shifting Tides was to expand the common
perception of what Cuban photography is generally thought to be, stated
curator Tim B. Wride. That is, black-and-white, documentary reportage with a
hint of magic realism, and replete with iconic images of Che and Fidel. What
the exhibition will demonstrate is the broad range and inventive nature of
work, both conceptual and visual, that has been and continues to be done on
the island. The work is expressive, sophisticated, and firmly grounded in an
international art dialogue.
José Manuel Fors
Cuba, b. 1956
29 11/16 x 19 3/4 in.; 75.4 x 31.4 cm
Courtesy of the artist and
Couturier Gallery, Los Angeles