Dear friends and students I have got the pleasure to let you know that after many years of hard work I’ve been able to publish my book on 14 years of my life in Cuba. In May of this year accompanied by seven of my students (we have nicknamed them The Magnificent Seven) we met in a small town near Verona to help my new “baby” come to light. The book is simply called BazanCuba.
It only took 14 years of life and photography in Cuba, and afterwards two intense years of editing, layout, pre-press, and printing to bring the new book to the world.
I first arrived almost by chance to the island in the fall of 1992, where I started up a love story that lasted for 14 years. On the streets of Havana, I found again my lost Sicilian childhood, unconsciously sought in vain during my previous trips around the globe. "For many years I had strongly desired Cuba as you long for a woman that you meet once and are unable to get off your mind. I'm almost certain to have lived there in another life," he wrote in the pages of my journal. And in Cuba I found my soul mate Sissy and from our relation our twin boys Pietro and Stefano were born.
Thanks to the photos taken in my unrelenting perambulations on the island, I have garnered some of the most prestigious international photographic awards including a grant from the W. Eugene Smith Fund (considered documentary photography’s greatest award), World Press Photo first prize in the daily life category, and a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation. Since 2001, as many of you know, I have been teaching my own workshops in Latin America, New York and my native Sicily.
One of the most extraordinary aspects of my book has been the collaborative participation of over 40 students in the editing, sequencing and layout of the book. In fact I managed to self-publish the book thanks to the willingness of my followers to pre-purchase limited edition copies of the book that include an original print signed and numbered. The support from my students has given complete sovereignty over content, allowing me to tell my story in a personal and intimate way while supervising every phase of production to produce a book that adheres to my highest photographic standards. The printing of the book is truly incredible, with deep blacks and an amazing tonal range. See it for yourself when you’ll get your copy.
The book masterfully conveys both a reportage-type approach in which I try to capture the quintessence of daily living, photographing total strangers met for a few seconds on the streets, and a more intimate and personal approach in which I portray various moments in the life of my own family as well as the lives of my beloved farmer friends with whom I shared long periods of time in the Cuban countryside reminiscent of my native land. As writer Vicki Goldberg points out in her afterword: "Ernesto seems to have been born Cuban by temperament and to have become more Cuban through family ties and long years of residence. My account is not an observer's but an insider's, presented in an uncommon, even a labyrinthine, language."
Far from being an external spectator parachuted on the island for a limited time period, I chose to live my unrepeatable life experience from within, mingling with the Cubans, becoming one of them, sharing their pains and pleasures. Talking about my Cuban work I always likes to quote one of my sources of inspiration], Rainer Maria Rilke: "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."
My profound and personal participation in one of the most difficult periods in Cuban, euphemistically called El Periodo Especial by Fidel Castro, makes each image more throbbing and surprising. The images are contagious and touch the most profound chords of human's nature.
On Saturday the 19th of July, we had a great party at my house in Brooklyn. More than 30 of my friends and students showed up to take a first look at the baby. Within a week over 100 copies of the trade edition have been sold thanks to the always generous and moving enthusiasm of some of my students. Some of them have purchased over 20 copies of the trade edition to give as gifts to friends, photographers, gallery owners, curators and simple folks like you and I. I hop that you can do the same with your circle of friends. I do not have a distributor, all you with a soul will be my distributors.
Spreading the word that has been key to my workshops continues now with the book’s promotion.
I hope that you can give me a hand in promoting this very long project in my life. Even purchasing a single copy will be a great help and it will not be taken for granted. I thank you in advance for your contribution.
If you can, please write down a list of people that you want to touch with this book or that you believe want to be touched by it.
The idea that lays behind my philosophy is to try break new ground in self-book publishing and show that people with a generous heart and their emotional chords still attached to their soul are still a majority in our world.
Coming soon, a dedicated web page to the book will be available. Among other interesting features, you will be able to see the trailer to the 30 minutes documentary film that was shot during the making of the book and that will be released soon. A guest-book section will allow you to leave your comments.
The 280 page book contains 118 photographs divided into six chapters, excerpts from my journal, contact sheets, and observations by various authors that sum up my life and photographic philosophy. BazanCuba will be for sale via Internet and through some specialized bookstores starting in July, 2008 at $90 per copy + shipping. Each book measures 11.5” height X 11.8” width, and weights 5 pounds. It is available in English, Spanish and Italian trade editions.
Some Limited editions copies of the book are also available at $1,200 per book. Each limited edition contains an original silver gelatin print numbered, signed and dated on verso 24x30 cm (9.4x11.8 inches) Both the image and the book are cased together in a hand-made clothbound black clamshell box. Each edition is limited to 100 with 5 artist's proofs.
All prints were made from the original negative by my personal printer Fausto Perez Sanchez under my strict supervision and archivally processed on fiber base warm-tone double-weight paper. Each print has been selenium-toned to provide a more unique look to each photograph.
To purchase a limited edition or a trade copy of the book please contact BazanPhotos Publishing directly at the following e-mail addresses:
I send you a big hug and look forward to hearing your response.
First Edition English ISBN # 978-0-9798303-0-3