“The singular apparition that is Bazan Cuba is not what just any camera would register, but Ernesto’s way of seeing, and no one else’s. Of the thousands of pictures of Cuba by Cubans and foreign photographers, none that I know look very much like these. The images here are stamped throughout with the photographer’s name, his perceptions, his mind, and they tell a story that belongs to him alone… He traveled to Cuba several times from 1992 to1997, fell in love there with Sissy, a Cuban, married in ‘97 and made the place his home. When Pietro and Stefano, his twin boys, arrived, that bound him yet more tightly to the island. His black and white response, saturated as it is with his sad love for the country, was a perfect fit for the island’s condition. In the 1990s he had stumbled into a historical moment, a time that Fidel Castro euphemistically called “the special period,” when Cuba’s patron, the Soviet Union, collapsed and sent the island into a spiral of deprivation and radical change. … His account is not an observer’s but an insider’s, presented in an uncommon, even a labyrinthine, language. Ernesto’s Cuba, which he regards with intimacy, fervor, burning affection and quiet gloom, is fabulously dark, like a tale told at night in the piercing light of a candle flame… Ernesto was born and brought up in Sicily, studied photography at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and first visited Cuba a decade after graduation. … At age seventeen, he had a dream in which he clearly heard the words, “You need to become a photographer.” … Bazan Cuba is in its way a love story, troubled, as love stories are, but a love story nonetheless, about a photographer and the country he claimed, or reclaimed… One day in 2006 he was summoned to the police station and told that he could no longer teach photographic workshops. No reason was offered, but he was warned that if he didn’t stop, he and his family would be in trouble. And so they left…”
Ernesto Bazan is a great photographer. His extraordinary photographs from Cuba - an island he lived in for many years - give us a rare insight into this very unique place. His images are a combination of brilliant graphics and powerful atmospheric content. I've always loved his work and I've always known that beyond doubt, Ernesto Bazan is the real deal.
Mary Ellen Mark
Ernesto Bazan’s beautiful photographs in his new book Cuba are permeated with soul.