U.S., Cuban photographers exhibit diversity of island's faces from two points of view

Two photographers, an American man, 58, and a 15-year-old Cuban girl, worked together for three days snapping portraits reflecting the diversity of Cubans in Havana, the subject of an exhibition starting Saturday that they consider a symbol of "trust" between the their two countries as they begin a new era.

Now open at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana, the "How We See You" exhibit consists of diptychs and individual portraits by artists Jeffrey Cardenas and Yanela Piñeiro, who in a kind of anthropological exercise seek to reveal the different reactions of the same people seen through their two separate lenses.

Cardenas and Piñeiro did their photo sessions last July in an improvised studio in a plaza of Old Havana, with the help of some 600 people who volunteered to be photographed, with the sole condition that they had to be Cubans.

"People were enthusiastic. Sometimes they lined up for an hour to be photographed. No one asked for money, no one asked for the pictures, it was as if they all understood that the mission of this project was simply to create art," Cardenas told Efe.

The final work, presented Saturday at the nation's most important museum, becomes the first joint exhibition that American and Cuban artists have presented on the island since the two governments announced last Dec. 17 the renewal of diplomatic relations that were broken off in 1961.

More On This...

"If this project is a symbol of the relations between the two countries, I'd like to thinks that it's a symbol of trust," said Cardenas, a writer and photographer of Cuban descent whose grandfather was born and lived on the island.

The idea of the exhibition, which will be seen in the United States in 2015, came from Cardenas's wish to portray Cubans and capture their reactions through two very different lenses - that of a compatriot and that of a foreigner.

Cardenas went looking for a colleague who would be as different from himself as possible - and chose Piñeiro, a Havana teenager who had already staged exhibits and had won prizes on the island, and who became the "perfect counterpoint" for the American.

Piñeiro and Cardenas used identical cameras and created a collection that includes some 100 pictures in black and white, between diptychs and individual portraits, which together create a narrative of the diversity that is Cuba.

Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter & Instagram