FotoFest 2004
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    Water Wasteland - Manuel Pina

Manuel Pina, Water Wastelands, 1992-2001
Courtesy of Marvelli Gallery, New York

There was a photograph from the 1920s of the 'paseo' along the Malecon, the sea wall. As a photograph, it was nothing special: the avenue viewed from above, the wall with the sea on the left, and the fortress (El Morro) in the background. What was impressive was the traffic. Cars and vehicles pulled by horses. They filled the entire street. One after the other, from one end to the other. The entire city was on parade, everyone waiting for a turn to be next to the sea. It was such a contradiction that at that same moment, they were building the Wall. A concrete embankment that would separate the earth from the water. Marking a border between land and water. The relationship of Havana to the sea is just that. Havana was not a coastal town that became a city. Nothing depended on the sea. The city was born with the port, and from the port grew rich. The port was a part of the city not the sea. The sea was something else. For that reason, when the city shut its doors, it also closed its port. The sea, however stayed, and the city closed itself off even more from the sea, and what the sea brought with it - storms and assaults.

...Sitting on the wall, the sea became another option for us. It was like being stopped at the edge, held between what we had been and an uncertain future. Many of us jumped. We did it so obsessively that it was difficult to say whether it was death or the certainty of another land that moved us. But perhaps that is not what was important. What was important was to escape.


Manuel Pina
From the FotoFest 2004 Catalogue

Manuel Pina, Water Wastelands, 1992-2001
Courtesy of Marvelli Gallery, New York



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