Two Boys, Cannon, Skyline

Havana, Cuba (Artist Statement)

Two Boys, Cannon, Skyline: Havana, Cuba (2017) - Fine art photograph showing two teenage boys sitting on an ancient cannon, the Havana skyline and grey skies in the background

As a rare break from photographing Havana's colourful, gritty streets, I took a taxi under the harbour tunnel to see this ancient fortress that I'd admired during many warm Malecon evenings. As usual in Cuba, the atmosphere was not as I'd expected. Instead of a stone platitude of retold wars, the fort was buzzing with music, buskers, and street vendors. In the hubbub of competing themes, any image of the past seemed to be lost – however, I recall wondering if I was experiencing a more vivid reenactment of the old life than any history sign could ever give.

Wanting a moment alone, I wandered to the ramparts. These students had distanced themselves from their group and were taking in the view from their perch on an iron cannon. They seemed very open in the face of some multi-layered dystopian present, looking into the years ahead with something which was not really apathy. In the moment, I imagined them as lovers. Behind them is the city where they will grow, where they will likely die, the city where everything is connected but everyone is alone.

Havana was, to me, a city of flesh and bones, somewhere where the rich air always carried a language that didn't quite translate. Far beyond the maddening taxis and the whistling whores, beyond the rotting marble and the oily streets, is the strong beating of an ancient heart.

— Two Boys, Cannon, Skyline: Havana, Cuba (2017)

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© Mark Raymond Mason

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