Today, I start research work at the Ryerson Research Centre in Toronto, Canada. I am the recipient of the 2018 Elaine Ling Fellowship awarded by the RIC, and the focus of my research will be images of Cuba in the Black Star Collection taken in the 1960 to 1990 period.
In the post-revolution years, Cuba had gradually restricted access to foreign press, filmmakers and tourists. Images of life on the island were mostly obtained from locally produced films which, due to the US embargo, had very limited distribution.
Slowly reopening to tourism in the early 1990s as the heavily Soviet-subsidized economy collapsed, Cuba retained a slight veil of mystery around itself. Snapshots of beautiful but crumbling Havana buildings, colourful 1950s American cars, and the Buena Vista Social Club film became the cliché imagery of an island exoticized by tourists, visitors and foreign media alike. In 2017, a hashtag search about Cuba on Instagram, reveals a similar pattern of clichés about the Cuban image.… Read on