Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cuba -- 50 Years of Revolution

by Andy Brooks

THE OLD ERA ended in Cuba in 1958. The revolutionary movement led by Fidel Castro and his guerrilla army swept away the hated Batista regime ending decades of corruption and American domination. Today the Cubans are celebrating the 50th anniversary of people’s power – and not just on the island of socialism.
A new biopic about Che Guevara hit the screens in January to critical acclaim in Britain and throughout the world. And we will get a further taste of the Cuban experience in a festival organised by Cuba50 that will run throughout the year. Events, large or small, will take place across the country featuring some of Cuba’s brightest talents in a dazzling celebration of the island’s rich artistic, musical and cultural heritage.
In London it began last month with an exhibition of vintage and contemporary photos from the archive of the Magnum photo agency including classic portraits of Fidel and Che as well as images taken during those heady days in Havana in 1958 when the Batista regime was overthrown.
The small collection on display, some 40 images, is naturally mainly of interest to snappers and specialist collectors, but it is well worth the trek from Barbican station just to see how the eye of the Magnum photographers capture the moment on the streets. Buildings and monuments remind us of the past but only the camera can capture the moment of reality. Passion and banality is equally frozen in time – the past preserved in black and white for all eyes to contemplate.
This is just the start. Cuba 50 is supported by the Cuban Ministry of Culture, Cuban Embassy, Cuba Solidarity Campaign and a number of unions, tourist and business interests. Further details can be obtained on their website or writing to:
Cuba 50 c/o Unite218 Green LanesLondon N4 2HB
The Magnum exhibition is open Wednesday to Friday from 11.30am - 4pm and it carries on till the end of the month. Ring the bell to gain admission at:
Magnum Print RoomMagnum Studios,63 Gee StreetLondon, EC1V 3RS