In This Review

¡Cuba, Cuba! 65 Years of Photography
¡Cuba, Cuba! 65 Years of Photography
By Curated by the International Center for Photography
Southampton Arts Center, 2015, pp
Purchase

The over 100 photographs and political posters in this exhibit capture playful, criminal, heroic, mundane, and melancholic moments from the last 65 years of Cuban history. Drawing on several collections featuring Cuban and American artists, the exhibit’s curators, the Cuban art historian Iliana Cepero and Pauline Vermare of the International Center of Photography (ICP), avoid easy stereotypes and instead artfully present Cuba’s tensions and complexities. One stunning image shows the American mobster-entrepreneur Meyer Lansky dressed in a white tuxedo jacket, smiling broadly in the lobby of the iconic Hotel Habana Riviera, which he owned. Another striking photograph, with echoes of Eugène Delacroix’s painting Liberty Leading the People, captures Cuban revolutionaries on horseback, galloping toward American-owned sugar estates that they presumably plan to seize and nationalize. Images from the 1970s and 1980s reflect Soviet-style appeals to hard work, but the Cuban laborers depicted in them retain their dignity. Present-day Cuba is pictured as fragmented, exhausted, and overwhelmed by daily deprivations. The collection omits images of Cuban President Raúl Castro and his ruling Communist Party colleagues, perhaps because they are less accessible and less colorful. The ICP hopes the exhibit will travel throughout the United States and Cuba.