OPEN DOORS

SANDRA HERNÁNDEZ

Cuba is all that our imaginary dictates: stunning architecture, good music, people of sensual movements, premium coffee and cigars, paradisiacal beaches, and many more wonders. An imaginary that, although it has a lot of truth, is an incomplete perception, a fantasy, a kind of veil that prevents seeing that other face that has nothing great: the face of the precariousness in which its people live and the complex reality of a country mired in a crisis that has accentuated over the years and that has reached a limit difficult to understand and, therefore, to explain.

Is an open door an invitation to come inside? I was in Cuba in July to start this project. During my walks through the streets of Havana and Trinidad I found that people lived with open doors. The line between public and private life disappears and both environments merge. I ventured into all the homes that had the doors open, talking to people, learning their stories and portraying them in their intimate spaces. What I found was a noble people who feel forgotten in the midst of an extremely alarming situation. Through this project I seek to give them voice and visibility with all the dignity they deserve.

WHY IS IT WORTHWHILE?

Cuba is at the height of an economic and humanitarian crisis. People are leaving the island in huge droves, as never seen before. The population is convinced that a big and dramatic change is about to happen. This island is one of the most visited destinations by professional and amateur photographers looking to take advantage of the photogenic aspect of this place and much of the photographic work that has been done about this country has been dedicated to romanticize the poverty in which its people live and exploit their clichés. It is important to show that other face that few dare to explore to break the stereotypes linked to this Caribbean island and give voice to the Cuban people who feel forgotten and abandoned to their fate. It is imperative to leave testimony of their current situation through a more intimate and profound approach.

WHY ME?

The reality in Cuba has shaken me deeply and as a photographer I have the commitment to show that side that few visitors dare to see and that, is the story that needs to be told. The camera is my vehicle for it. Due to the political system that currently governs Cuba, the local people are scrupulously monitored. Cubans don’t even trust their own neighbours, so a local photographer wouldn’t have the same access to people’s intimacy as a foreigner like me. In the trip I did this year I had the opportunity of being welcomed by many families that allowed me to come inside their places and shared with me their everyday life. I want to continue this exploration and take it further.

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