591Exhibition: Centro Habana
591 Photography online Exhibition Aug 30 - Nov 22, 2009
An island within an island
Located between the emblematic Malecón, the Old Havana tourist zone and the refined Vedado, this district concentrates the greatest expression of popular Cuban culture and is mostly inhabited by blacks and mulatos.
The deterioration of the buildings, the overcrowding due to the constant multiplication of families - either due to new marriages or the constant migration from the provinces towards the capital- create an intense street life. If we add to this unemployment and the excessive free time of the population, we can see that the street is the national territory of downtown Havana residents.
In this place, unlike the majority of the great capitals, the discussion is not about the use and appropriation of public spaces, but on the condition of the private spaces. The public space is for Havanans in general and particularly for downtown Havana residents, it is their natural space. Housing is a pitiful necessity.
In my work, I seek to explore the expression of popular urban culture in this location, in these conditions and, especially, in this historical, political and ideological context.
I am interested in those people who resolve day-by-day, that community with no idea of the future, with a past full of hope and utopias and with a present filled with uncertainty. The sea as an impassible border and at the same time as a horizon. I am interested by this generation of the transition, this population of children and youths that inevitably are pioneers without Ché, and will be adults without Fidel.
My photographic project Centro Habana, like the novels of Pedro Juan Gutiérrez, focuses on the invisible, on those living in the eternal contradiction (between Ché and Santeria, between the revolution and leaving the country), those who live understanding that sex and the body itself are the last boundary, those who live hidden behind the classic cars, the mulattos, the tobacco, the sunsets, the music and the rum.
FRANCISCO MATA ROSAS
Ciudad de México/2009