Monday, 17 September 2012

Havana Deserta

These attractively de-saturated colour postcards come from the first decade of the newly independent Republic of Cuba beginning in 1902. Turbulent times including a disputed election, an armed insurrection and a two year occupation courtesy of the US armed forces. None of this drama disturbs the surface of these untroubled soporific images of thinly populated streets where very little stirs. Postcard photographers were notorious early-risers, anxious to avoid the rush hour crowds whose blurry images could compromise the integrity of their otherwise perfect compositions. An empty city was highly desirable – a rival attraction, a bullfight, a Papal mass or a boxing tournament was just the thing to draw the crowds away. The colonial architecture inherited from the Spanish retains a crisp and well maintained air that would gradually decay as the political fabric was torn apart in a succession of ideological conflicts over the next half century. 

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