“It took only fourteen years of my life and photography in Cuba, two intense years of editing, graphic design and finally go to press to bring to light this work. 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 have found my Sicilian childhood, unconsciously sought in vain during many trips around the world.
For many years I had strongly desired Cuba, as a woman met once that you can no longer take out of your head. I’m almost certain to have lived there in another life,” I wrote in the pages of my diary. And there I found my life partner, Sissy, and from this union were born our twins Pietro and Stefano.
The book of 280 pages contains hundred and eighteen photographs divided into six chapters; excerpts from my diary, contact sheets, reflections and quotes from authors that summarize my philosophy on life and work.
One of the most extraordinary aspects of this book, printed on a very special matte paper using inks especially created for the occasion, was the choral participation of over forty of my students in the editing process. For over fifteen years, in fact, I exclusively dedicated myself to teach my workshops in Latin America, in New York and in my native land: Sicily.
The selection of photographs, the sequence and the creation of the layout of the book were the steps that we shared. But the help of my faithful students was not limited only to this … Thanks to them I was able to self-publish my work. The great generosity of my students who have pre-purchased copies of the limited edition of the book, containing a silver gelatin prints signed and numbered, was important for the project. Being able to maintain total control of every stage of production allowed me to tell my story in a personal and intimate way, while maintaining full sovereignty of all content.
The book combines a reportage approach in which I try, by photographing strangers met for a few seconds on the streets of the island, to grasp the essence of everyday life, and a more intimate and personal one with photographs depicting various moments of life of my family and my dear farmer friends with whom I shared unforgettable long periods in the Cuban countryside and that often reminded me of my land.
Far from being an external spectator parachuted on the island for a limited time, I chose to live from within this unique experience of life, mingling with the Cubans, becoming one of them, sharing their joys and sorrows. When I talk about my work, I often like to quote Rainer Maria Rilke, one of my mentors: “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, learn it with pain. I’m grateful for: patience is everything.”
In May 2009, the book won the first prize at the New York Photo Festival and the silver medal at the Festival of Independent Publishers.
Photographs by Ernesto Bazan. Afterword by Vicki Goldberg.
Bazan Photos Publishing, 2008.
118 duotone illustrations. 11.75″ x 11″
Standard and Limited Editions
Available in English, Spanish, and Italian