Cuba: The Power of Images

Cuba is a country with a very powerful image abroad. Most people have a very clear idea of what the country looks like, although they have never visited it – they have seen posters with the leaders of the Revolution and photos of old cars, smiling people and beaches with crystal clear water. However, many of us would like to see pictures of what lies beyond that; we would like to know what effect the presentation of this image abroad has had behind closed doors, what significance has the constant propaganda had for Cubans, what are the consequences of the lack of advertising, images and audiovisual material and to what degree have influences from abroad been able to manifest themselves in Cuba.

The topic of Cuban visual culture is extremely complex and broad, too much so to be tackled in a small magazine like ours, but we wanted to provide at least a taste of what the power of images means in the context of Cuba – both with regard to the image of the country itself, as well as to all of the images that Cubans have been (and still are) taking in. Clearly, the aesthetics of the country, which are currently undergoing profound changes, havebeen marked by propaganda and the absence of advertising.

In his article, Francis Sanchez tells us about the prohibition of any audiovisual materials other than those produced by the Revolution and muses about how new technologies have helped Cubans watch independent films; William Retureta comments on the consequences that communist propaganda and the absence of advertising has had on his adolescence; and finally, Yanela Moran and Taylor Torres, a new generation of Cuban photographers, tell us about their experiences from a photojournalism workshop in Prague. Perhaps the images coming out of Cuba will begin to change soon and show us a different kind of reality, which, however, is also unmistakably Cuban.

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Agnes Koleman has been visiting Cuban since 1997. She is long time admirer of Cuban people and hopes Cuba will soon will become a democratic country.