Cuba in Revolution opens at Garage Center for Contemporary Culture on 11 March 2011, with over 250 original photographs that explore the visual legacy of the Cuban Revolution of 1959.
The exhibition features works from over thirty photographers from Cuba, the United States and the USSR, and gives a unique insight into one of the most spectacular political events of the twentieth century.
Cuba in Revolution explores everyday life in Cuba before and after the Revolution, and considers the ways in which both Cuban and foreign photojournalists helped construct the image of the Revolution for the rest of the world. The exhibition shows the tremendous influence of photography in recording and also encouraging the revolutionary movement in Cuba. It includes important images of pre-Revolutionary Cuba by Constantino Arias, Raúl Corrales, René Burri, Burt Glinn and classics by Henri Cartier-Bresson. Two of the most iconic prints are by Alberto Korda, his 1959 portrait La Niña de la Muñeca de Palo (Girl with a Wooden Doll) and his seminal portrait of Che Guevara titled Guerrillero Heroico (Heroic Guerrilla) from 1960. Also included are a series of never-before-seen images of Che’s death in Bolivia in 1967 by the British photojournalist Brian Moser.
The exhibition also presents the development of Cuban photography, as it positions the work of the most prominent indigenous photographers (Arias, Korda, Corrales and Salas), alongside international photographers and photojournalists (such as Cartier-Bresson, Burri, Glinn, Elliott Erwitt and Andrew Saint-George). Cuban photographer Arias injected a degree of social and political consciousness into his work of the early 1950s, and in many ways, this presaged the concerns of the Revolution by focusing attention on the everyday reality of the common man.
During the Revolution, an ‘ideal’ was transposed onto the image of the Cuban people, and later this was fused with iconic or even mythological images of the Revolutionary leaders themselves. Indeed, initially both Cuban and international photographers had unprecedented access to Fidel Castro and his young Communist guerillas, and many of the photographs that were taken at this time capture the spontaneity of the Revolution. The exhibition also reveals insights such as the rarely seen photographs of 1960s teenage Cuban counterculture that existed clandestinely alongside the sanctioned youth movements of the Revolution. In contrast, after 1968 and the banning of private enterprise inside Cuba, the majority of authorized photographs of the Revolution are reduced to portraits of Castro in his official capacity as head of the Cuban State.
The exhibition has been curated by Mark Sanders and Yulia Aksenova from images held in the collection of The Arpad A. Busson Foundation. A version of Cuba in Revolution was first exhibited at The International Center of Photography in New York in September 2010.
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