“This project defines the cultural diversity that is the identity of our nation.”
-Ana Cristina, Director of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Havana
“Piñeiro and Cardenas used identical cameras and created a collection that includes about 100 images in black and white, diptychs and individual portraits, that support the narrative of diversity that makes up Cuba.”
–El Nuevo Herald / Miami Herald
A large-format photography book of the project is available at www.amazon.com
How We See You
For the first time since it debuted at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Havana last December, American audiences now have the chance to see the groundbreaking exhibition, Cómo lo vemos a Usted / How we see you, when it opens at The Studios of Key West on October 1.
Originally opening just days after the United States and Cuba announced the historic reconciliation between the two countries last December, the exhibition is the result of a project undertaken by American photographer Jeffrey Cardenas and Cuban photographer Yanela Piñeiro. The exhibition highlights the diversity of Cubans living in the barrio of La Habana Vieja, and also asks, “Who exactly are these Cuban neighbors who have been isolated for more than a half a century, and how do they see us now?”
The project began in Havana when Cardenas and Piñeiro set up outdoor studios in the historic Plaza Vieja, inviting the general public to sit for brief portraits with each photographer.
Hailing from vastly different cultures, the disparate photographers (Cardenas is 59, Piñeiro is 16) captured not only their subjects, but also, the shifting perspectives of the Cubans as they sat for first, an American with a camera, and then, a Cuban photographing them moments later.
Thousands of simple black-and-white portraits were taken. The resulting narrative is sometimes subtle, often dramatic, and always surprising.
“Some Cubans have referred to the project as un espejo, a mirror,” Cardenas said. “They see themselves through two different sets of eyes and they look back at us. For people who have been kept secluded for 54 years the ability to do that is empowering.”
Cardenas and Piñeiro then independently made their selections and the two portraits were blended into a single image as a diptych. The work was printed nearly life size into the surface of white, powder-coated sheets of aluminum with a process of dye sublimation. Cómo lo vemos a Usted has also been published as a large-format book.
“The Studios of Key West is a perfect venue for the first American exhibition of this project,” Cardenas said. “Culturally, Key West and Havana.