American Photographer Michael Dweck Captures Cubaʼs Secret Society - Photographs Creative Elite and Sons of Castro and Guevara in New Book and Exhibition -
Cuba has a secret. One that has never been photographed, never reported in Western media and never acknowledged openly within Cuba itself.
Michael Dweck: Habana Libre (Damiani editore, Italy) is American photographer Michael Dweckʼs exploration of a compelling aspect of Cubaʼs contradictory status in the world today. The title, like much in Cuba, has a double meaning: Free Havana and Havana is Free. This revealing and contemporary work by a visual artist adept at capturing the quiet gesture, the alluring glance and the proud and provocative pose, brings to light a secretive social order as seen from within – a position not previously attained by an outsider.
Behind the clichéd press images of vintage cars, crumbling buildings, peeling paint and a struggling unhappy people held back from progress, lays a hidden society of Cubaʼs most influential people - the creative class. It is a socially connected group of keenly observant artists, glamorous models, filmmakers, musicians and writers captured in an elaborate dance of survival and success. Their lives are a constant play of appearances; they are the privileged class in a classless society.
Dweckʼs seductive, exhilarating, provocative black and white images, along with a hypnotic visual narrative and personal interviews by William Westbrook, provide a glimpse into the lives of those who define the creative culture of Cuba. All of his subjects are nationally and in some cases internationally recognized artists. Arguably most notable are the never-before-photographed sons of both Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.
To gain entrée into this world is to be a member of several farandulas, small circles of friends intersecting like Olympic rings. Each ring an interest: music or fashion; cinema or art. Actual money is not always necessary for the above-average life. Social connection trumps politics, status, wealth and even race. They are sensual and warm, romantically intertwined with one another, moving easily in a tightly controlled society.
These Cubans are international, elegant and sophisticated. They have cars and passports in a country where travel is difficult if not impossible. They are fashionable, though Cuban couture is an oxymoron as there are few stores. They are socialists who would be lost without capitalism to sell their creative wares in the worldʼs markets. And they are the pride and flesh of Cubaʼs culture. They put their conscience on record, their art is their vision of the country.
Michael Dweck: Habana Libre will be published by Damiani editore (Italy) and released in the U.S. in October, 2011 and internationally in November, 2011. A collectorʼs limited edition box set of Michael Dweck: Habana Libre, along with an 8x10 print both signed by the artist is also available.
The Michael Dweck: Habana Libre exhibition will open in San Francisco at the Modernism Gallery on September 8th. In February 2012, it will be shown in the Fototeca de Cuba Museum in Havana. The exhibition will also travel to Tokyo, Paris and New York.