BPP, 2020. First edition. Clothbound hardcover, 284 pp. w/ gatefolds, b/w illustrated, 254 x 266 mm. Photograps by Ernesto Bazan. Text by Ernesto Bazan, Sarah Gordon. Design by Kevin Sweeney.
Ernesto Bazan (b. 1959, Sicily) made his first trip to Cuba in 1992 and immediately fell in love with the country and its people. His visceral connection to Cuba, an island nation which reminded him of his childhood growing up on the island of Sicily, would inspire a photographic exploration that would last 25 years. Photography critic Vicki Goldberg writes: “[Bazan’s] knowledge of the island is as profound as a native’s, his emotional connection as strong as a lover’s, and his vision a camera vision, which is not at all the same as the unaided human’s eye.”
25 De Noviembre, Bazan’s fourth monograph about Cuba, is a powerful and poignant photographic portrait of the island and its people in the days, months and years following the death of Fidel Castro on November 25, 2016. This deeply personal book documents Bazan’s emotional return journey to his adopted, spiritual home following ten years of painful exile.On January 6, 2006, Bazan was (banned) forced out from the country when he refused to give up teaching his workshops. He left Cuba with his wife, Sissy, and their twin boys Pietro and Stefano, on July 4, 2016, ironically Independence Day in the US.
The book includes color photographs of found objects and collaged images that Bazan collected while walking the streets of Havana. The spread above featured in the opening pages of the book sets the tone. To the left is Sissy’s grandfather’s green military cap, a symbol of the Cuban Revolution; to the right, is a flattened Coca-Cola bottle, an item unavailable for purchase in Cuba and representing President Barack Obama’s December 2014 reinstatement of full diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba.
Peppered throughout the book are quotes from Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, Cuban authors Virgilio Piñera, Heberto Padilla, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Leonardo Padura, and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rose Kennedy, the widow of Bobby Kennedy. The quotes, which reference topics such as censorship, government control, complicity, fear, shame and regret provide a running color commentary alongside the images that brings another dimension to the monograph.