When many individuals consider visiting an art gallery, they imagine paintings and photographs of imaginative landscapes, subjects, and people. However, what few individuals realize, is that an exhibit doesn’t just need to be filled with just plain images, it can be filled with photos, props, colors, music, and culture. This is precisely the case within the exhibit, Cuba Is, at the Annenberg Space for Photography.
The beauty of this exhibit is not just found within the 131 creative photographs, 4 videos, 1 feature film documentary and a second interactive exhibit, but rather found within the design of the exhibit and what the photography and videos represent. This is showcased through the descriptive panels that accompany each portion of the exhibit, the props used, the virtual reality adventures and the cafe that serves coffee and food. Within the exhibit, Cuba Is, Annenberg Space for Photography, there was an overarching focus on parts of Cuba that foreigners and Cubans themselves, that have not accessed or seen. This focus was centralized on the colored and black and white photos of different daily lives of Cuban individuals and groups also showcased within the descriptive panels around the exhibit. These photos give the viewers an intimate examination of many individuals through the photographs, who would otherwise be overlooked within society. Supplementing this uncommon, mesmerizing look into the Cuban life, the virtual reality encounter at the Havana Club Bar that dives into Cuba’s present lifestyle, enabling guests to virtually look around Malecón.
The second exhibit also provides a more on hands experience where you are able to listen to “sounds of Cuba” as well as watch many other videos talking about Cuba. One photograph that really resonated with me was a photograph by Michael Dweck, that was displayed in a black and white filter. The photo is called Giselle and Rachel cruising down the Malecón, Habana, from the series Habana Libre, 2009. The medium for this work of art is photography. In this black and white photo, you see two women sitting in the back seat of a convertible car, both wearing sunglasses, expensive looking jewelry, holding what seems to be an alcoholic drink, their hair is blowing in the wind and they have joyful smiles on their faces. I believe the subject matter is to give individuals a perspective of the: “good life” of Cuba in a “free of travel” form while tending to tough issues and showing everyday life. The exhibit showed many amazing artworks that really gives you a taste of Cuba, but Giselle and Rachel cruising down the Malecón, from the series Habana Libre was my favorite because of the simplicity of the photo. There were many other photos that showed me the struggles some individuals face in Cuba, but this gave me more of a positive insight of Cuba.
When I first glanced at this photo, the joyful presence of the two girls happiness looked so real and pure, this showed me a perspective of the “good life” in Cuba. A theme that I believe that the work of art I chose would embody is “Self and Society” located in Chapter 13 in the textbook, specifically under the theme “Class”. In the artwork I chose, we see the depicted of class through the environment and the body style/posed of the young women, both women looking like they live a very happy and stress-free life. As I stated above, I believe Dweck and the other photographers are trying to exhibit the individuals and their economic structure by showing either the “good life” or the complex mosaic in Cuba today. In conclusion, there were quite a few things I enjoyed from this exhibit, the first part of the exhibit I really enjoyed was that I was able to read a story about each individual or group in a text beside the photo.
The second thing I really enjoyed about the exhibit was the virtual reality bar and being able to tour around the streets of Cuba and have a true sense of the everyday life. Thirdly, I really enjoyed the motive of the exhibit, revealing the aspects of Cuban life to the uninformed and the outside world. There was nothing about the exhibit I didn’t appreciate if anything it made me want to go visit Cuba. Finally, what I learned that really stood out to me was how photographers like Michael Dweck are able to showcase the importance of different cultures, class systems, and individual/groups within the simplicity of photographs.