Proud to share in some Cuban history

Story by Jack Foley

THE turbulent, even controversial, history of the Caribbean island of Cuba is captured in a new exhibition of 120 photographs (many previously unseen) at Proud Central in London.

Havana In My Heart draws on the many influences of the people of Cuba, from African religion to Russian Communism, taking in some of the more famous perceptions of the country, as well as a surprising and often more intimate insight into its culture.

So while the famous image of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, by Alberto Korda, is featured, along with shots of Fidel Castro, so are insights into the everyday people of Cuba - the people who make it tick. The Habaneros, for instance, are captured by the likes of Sergio Romero and Fransisco Bou, while everyday scenes of people simply ‘living’ help to capture a personal side to the country; an often overlooked side.

As such, viewers will be able to take a look at images of a musician with his double bass hitching a lift on the back of a bicycle or a man carrying a bag made of palm leaves, with a knowing smile, while taking in the perceptions of Gareth Jenkins, author of the captions and the book which accompanies the exhibition. Both picture and text serve to bring you closer to the country, its people and its customs and culture.
And then there’s the revolution and its protagonists, ‘Che’ and Castro. Images of both leaders inspiring troops and mucking in are offset by shots of them relaxing and pursuing their interests - fishing, or even playing golf together.

Of particular interest are likely to be the personal portraits of ‘Che’ by Perfecto Romero, his official war photographer, which reveal the family man behind the revolutionist - interacting with his family, for instance.

All in all, a fascinating insight into one of the world’s most fascinating islands. It could inspire people to travel there, as well as bringing back memories for those who have been lucky enough to experience its vitality.

Until July 20, Proud Central, 5 Buckingham Street, The Strand WC2, Mon to Thu 10am to 7pm, Fri to Sun 10am to 6pm, £3, £2 concs. Tel: 020 7839 4942.
Tube: Charing Cross/Embankment

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