YANITZIA CANETTI.-Havana, 1967. Graduated in Journalism at the School of Communication at the University of Havana. She has published more than twenty books, poetry, short stories, plays, novels, (mainly for children and young people), more than two thousand articles for the press in Cuba, Spain, Italy, USA, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and other countries , and numerous reviews and book reviews for journals in the world. Fluent in Spanish, English and Italian, has translated more than a hundred children’s books, among which include some classics of children’s literature Anglo. He has also worked as a professional photographer with more than 15 international exhibitions and photographic works are part of the permanent collection of several galleries (Denmark, Italy, Mexico and Spain). He has won numerous awards including the National Book Award “The White Rose”, awarded to the best books published in Cuba (1994), National Book Award in Poetry, awarded for three consecutive years by the Ministry of Education of Cuba, 1984, 1985, 1986, Honorable Mention in Journalism, granted by The National Association of Hispanic Publications, USA, 1997.
EVEL GONZALEZ.-Was born in Havana in 1968. He studied photojournalism at the University of Havana. In early 90’s, with the absence of newspapers and publications, is dedicated to perform several series of photography, documenting processes different cultural, social and political. These phenomena mural painting, graffiti and propaganda officer or official. Some photos from the series And the walls have their say?, Participants in this exhibition were awarded prizes in several competitions and exhibited in venues such as Casa de America in Madrid, Spain. Leave your country in 1993, traveling to Venezuela, where for eight years work and collaborate with different media and news agencies. He has over 30 collective and personal exhibitions in Cuba, USA, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, France, Holland, Italy, Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, Morocco and Spain among others. His photographs have been included in several anthologies of photography, catalogs
and art books. Also, in the Permanent Collection Peter Ludwig Foundation Karen Stempels, and the CubanAmerican Photothèque Foundation (CAPF) . Currently lives in Barcelona, working as a photo-reporter for various news agencies.
ABIGAIL GONZALEZ PINA is a Cuban born visual artist, photographer and videographer that lives in Naples, Florida in the United States. Gonzalez Piña graduated from the Havana Superior Institute of Arts in Direction of Photography and before from the Fine Arts School of Havana, Cuba in Painting. His works had been shown in important galleries and museums across the globe such as The International Center of Photography in New York, FNAC Montparnasse, Paris, France, the Ludwig Forum Fur Internationale Kunst in Aachen, Germany, the Museum of Photography in Mexico DF, and the Gallery of the Phototheque in Miami. Abigail is a member of the Permanent Collection of the Cuban American Phototheque Foundation.
GONZALO HERNANDEZ.-Was born Havana, 1963. Studied Library Science at the University of Havana and Communication/Photography at Miami Dade College. Started his photographic training at the Association of journalists in Havana, Cuba. Was a disciple of Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide’s workshop in 1989 at the Zacatecas University, Mexico. At the Havana Biennial of 1990, Gonzalo was chosen, among others young artists, by Mexican photographer Gerardo Suter to participate in his workshop at the FOTOTECA DE CUBA in Havana. In Cuba he received a first place award on portrait by the theater magazine “Tablas” in 1990 for his work “Broken Mirror” and the Asociancion Hermanos Saiz award in 1991 for the series “es un escandalo, dicen…” ( “it is a scandal, they say…”). The series “El que no salte…” (the one who does not jump…”) was never seen in Cuba due to its political implications. He has had solo and collective exhibitions in Cuba, United States, Mexico, Italy and Canada and has been a freelance photographer for different magazines and news papers in Cuba, Spain, Mexico and United States. In 1991 Gonzalo was invited by the department of Photography of Pratt Institute, New York City to show his work and talk about young Cuban Photography. He lives in New York City.
A document of Havana in the 90’s
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27 photographs made in Havana by 7 Cuban-born photographers, during the Special Period years (1991-1997), after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
CARLOS MAYOL.- Was born in Havana, Cuba in 1956. Since early in his childhood, his father by then a photojournalist, thought both he and his brother, the wonders of photography. In 1976 Mayol starts working as a photojournalist in Tribuna newspaper until 1994. His fine art photographs had been shown in prestigious galleries from 17 countries from around the world. His works are in private collections such Mother Jones International Fund For Documentary Photography, USA. World Press Photo Foundation, Holanda. UNESCO-ACCU, Japon. Museo de Bellas Artes, Dominican Republic. Fototeca del INAH, Pachuca, Mexico. Fotofestival Internacional de Humorfoto, KnoKKe-Heist, Belgica. Universidad de la Rabida, España. Galeria Zone, Inglaterra. Festival, Abril Mes de la Fotografia, Merida, Mexico. Fototeca de Cuba. Museo del Humor, San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba. Union de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba. Fotofest, Houston, USA. Casa de Las Americas, Cuba. Union de Periodistas de Cuba. Coleccion Menil ,Houston, USA. The Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona Beach, USA. Cuban American Phototheque Foundation, Miami USA.
RICARDO SANTOS.-Graduated as a General Radiographer in Havana, Cuba.1983, Santos began his photographic career In 1985. He was a co-founder of a new group of young’s Cuban photographer, Asociacion Hermanos Saiz,(A.H.S) that made multiple collectives exhibits in Cuba,Latin America and Europe .In 1994 Ricardo was commissioned by Zone Gallery to produce a series of photographs of friends and family which reveal the aspirations of ordinary Cubans in the 90s .Drawing on the traditional family album as inspiration these informal portraits construct a poignant image of a nation coming to terms with change. Ricardo participated In various group exhibitions in Cuba, Italy, Mexico, and England.He currently lives in Miami. Santos has exhibited widely in Cuba since 1989 and his work has been included in groups shows in Latin America, Germany, Italy, and England.
ISABEL SIERRA.-A 2018 Master in Art Education candidate who currently holds a Bachelor in Fine Arts in Visual Arts with a Minor in Art History from Florida International University. Also, Isabel received an Associates Degree in Graphic Design from Miami Dade College. Sierra has worked as a photographer, imaging specialist and art director for different organizations in Miami, Florida; Caracas,Venezuela, and Havana, Cuba. A photographer since the 1980s, Isabel continues to probe into social issues through her photography works with a sustain interest in topics relating the migration processes, and identity. Sierra has exhibited her work in various galleries and museums in Europe, South America, and the US, including The Patricia and Philip Frost Art Museum in Miami, Museum of Contemporary Art in Caracas, and Casa de las Americas and the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana. Sierra works are in permanent collections such Museo de Bellas Artes, Havana Galeria Pallares, Leon, Spain, Fototeca de Cuba, Union de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba. Casa de Las Americas, Cuba. Union de Periodistas de Cuba and the Cuban American Phototheque Foundation, Miami USA.
Nātam is a documentary retrospective that assembles twenty-seven photographs made in Havana by seven Cuban-born photographers, Yanitzia Canetti, Abigail Gonzalez Piña, Evel Gonzalez, Gonzalo Hernandez, Carlos Mayol, Ricardo Santos and Isabel Sierra who registered a perceptive testimony of the special period years (1991-1997). Since those photographers made use of their 35 mm cameras with wide lenses and black and white film to reach the commonplace in a City where economic burden deprived natives of the basics. Each image in this exhibit speaks across time with technical proficiency, even in extreme difficult light conditions, and their strong composition should involve the viewer in an aesthetic encounter that can be overwhelmed due to the idiosyncratic physical and psychic geography of Havana.
Nātam-imperative in Latin of nothingness-is inspired by La Nada Cotidiana, a short novel by Zoé Valdés (Havana, 1959), The Daily Nothingness, which is approaching 25 years after first being published. Like Yocandra, the main character we refer to, these artists represent the first generation of Cubans born and raised in a system that was going to build paradise. Just as the characters of the novel, they felt trapped and impotent by their reality .
Trying to understand, and to be understood, these photographers produced a personal document in images where humor, irony, and exasperation go hand in hand with disbelief and despair. They had to face their own disappointment camera in hand and ended up leaving the island after trying to be heart. Rebelling themselves against their surroundings, they took their cameras and negatives with them to leave elsewhere away from the pain and the sorrow.
Yanitzia Canetti. Evel Gonzalez. Abigail Gonzalez Piña. Gonzalo Hernandez Carlos Mayol. Ricardo Santos. Isabel Sierra. Names rare to find in the catalogs and publications the ineffable left of the first world create among time to time in projects to praise the Cuban Revolution led at the time by Fidel Castro. It could not be otherwise, with these images inquisitive and uncomfortable that these authors created. It is as if the talent were paired with the possession of the Cuban identity card and the ration book documents, those who separate each Cuban living "inside" the Island, if he has them, from those who reside abroad.
Uncommitted with the situation of the debatable discrimination that the artists of Cuban origin suffer -unless they commune with the status quo of the class ruling their original birthplace-, the Cuban American Phototheque of Miami proudly made its mission to work with everyone of them, accepted and unaccepted, to keep the projects of the Foundation focused on the photographic phenomenon, on the quality of the images, on the document that illustrates and confirms.
Nātam is a collective show that may appear to be the work of a solely artist at first sight, but an attentive look should convey every author has his unique voice. Consequently, visual elements and symbolic metaphors in this exhibit offer the spectator uncounthness layers of different connotations from one image to the following one.
Above all, the photographers transcend the external piece of information they chose to frame in the negative to reveal the individuals behind the camera so the results need no translation.
PHOTOTHEQUE Curatorial Team