The exhibition will feature the three bodies of work that Ernesto Bazan has taken during his fourteen years living in Cuba, between 1992 and 2006, during the unique historical time referred to as “The Special Period”. All the images have been self-published in three books by BazanPhotos Publishing. “Bazan Cuba” was launched in 2008; “Al Campo” in 2011 and “Isla” in 2014.
Each body of work represents an independent narration on the complex experience lived by the photographer on the island where he started his own family. The photographs convey a very personal and intimate journey through the island and its people as well as in the photographer’s life.
“I arrived to Cuba for the first time, almost by accident, in the fall of 1992; I started a love affair with the island, which lasted fourteen years. On the streets of Havana I found my Sicilian childhood. Never could I have imagined that in Cuba I’d find my destiny, that over there a very important part of my existence both as a man and as a photographer had already been determined.” (Ernesto Bazan)
“Ernesto seems to have been born Cuban by temperament and he became even more so having had a family and the many years he spent on the island. His story, presented in an uncommon language, even labyrinthine, is not that of an observer’s but of an insider.” (Vicki Goldberg in her afterword of “Bazan Cuba”)
Far from being an external spectator parachuted on the island for a limited time, he chose to live from within this unique experience of life, mingling with the Cubans, becoming one of them, sharing their joys and sorrows. When the photographer talks about his work, he often likes to quote the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, one of his sources of inspiration: “In this there is no measuring with time, a year doesn’t matter, and ten years are nothing. Being an artist means: not numbering and counting, but ripening like a tree, which doesn’t force its sap, and stands confidently in the storms of spring, not afraid that afterward summer may not come. It does come. But it only comes to those who are patient, who are there as if eternity lies before them, so unconcernedly silent and vast. I learn it every day of my life, I learn it with pain. I’m grateful for: patience is everything.” (Rainer Maria Rilke: “Letters to a young poet”)
“I believe that Ernesto Bazan doesn’t belong to neither of these categories. I think he belongs to the poets category. That category of artists able to look at the world from a different angle, that can fly high and give us a global vision as the one of the hawk (from Isla’s cover) that knows how to focus its attention on a subject and from it extrapolate that small portion that justifies and explains the totality of the vision. Ernesto walks his path with a light but firm step, taking by the hand the reader and leading him through a landscape of loneliness, isolation and sadness but also of joy, happiness and love for life, of reflection, feelings and above all with a strong will: the one of a population, the Cuban people, who went through the history seeing themselves as protagonists, with pride and dignity, beyond political or national characterizations. The dignity of being men, first of all, who can defend their identity as “people” belonging to humanity in its highest and most open way, even if forced to live in penumbra in that cave that the island of Calypso contains within.” (Daniele Alamia, curator)
Ernesto Bazan won some of the most important international photographic prizes including the World Press in 1995, the W. Eugene Smith grant in 1998, and a Guggenheim fellowship in 2000.
The show is sponsored by the Ministry of Culture of the city of Palermo in collaboration with ANFE.
29 Jul – 25 Sep 2016