As eager tourists all over the United States gear up for what is surely an imminent easing of travel restrictions to Cuba, the International Center of Photography is turning its lens towards the island, offering a looking glass for those longing to uncover its enchantment and suspension in time. But many who fled Castro’s regime are wondering whether tourists will see the “real” Cuba, plagued by extreme poverty and an absence of fundamental human rights. The reality might be somewhere in the middle.
In celebration of its upcoming exhibition, ¡Cuba, Cuba!, the ICP has handed their Instagram account over to Carolina Sandretto, an Italian-born photographer that works with disadvantaged groups across Latin America in an effort to increase awareness, inspire activism, and create real social change. Sandretto will be taking over the ICP's Instagram account all week.
Sandretto’s photos depict Cubans of all ages – men, women, black, and white – in their homes or on the streets of Havana, in which a single gaze relays a life story. But her photos also reveal that despite the daily hardships, Cubans emit resilience, rely on camaraderie, and search for happiness where it wouldn’t normally exist.
Sandretto’s takeover is a starkly poignant contrast to many of the works that will be on view in ¡Cuba, Cuba!, which premieres on August 15 at the Southhampton Arts Center in New York. The show will include more than 100 color and black-and-white photographs, made from the 1950s to the present. The exhibition features works by over 20 Cuban photographers, including Alberto Korda, Raúl Corrales, and Marucha (María Eugenia Haya), as well as contributions from American masters like Hamptonites Burt Glinn and Elliott Erwitt.
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While you might not have the funds to travel to the ICP's exhibition (which will eventually make its way to the Manhattan museum), you can enjoy Sandretto's candid photographs of average Cubans on the museum's Instagram feed. The photographs are perfectly composed depictions of joy in the face of the obstacles of poverty and a still repressive government. We may be poised on the edge of our seat waiting for Cuba to open, it’s important to remember that the island still isn’t free.
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