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Cuba: Cooper & Marti –La Habana Vieja

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This could just be just another photo book about a trip to Havana. But it reads more like a beautiful tale of reconciliation between Cuba and the United States. The photographers Nestor Marti and Chip Cooper, from Cuba and the USA, respectively, traveled as friends throughout the island capital in search of the daily lives of its citizens, and its buildings worn down by time. In Old Havana, children take over large public spaces for their games, baseball especially, while the adults love—and this isn’t just a cliché—to light a cigar, chat, and watch life pass by. Its quiet cobblestone streets are watched over by colonial-style buildings, where a few lovely American cars come to stroll. Even if readers already know Cuba, they’ll be carried away again by the brilliant colors, dreaming of these smiles and glances charged with revolutionary history. They will also discover a city in transformation, where the walls are covered not only with Communist posters but also the graffiti of local artists. Close-ups and full-length portraits, architectural shots, street scenes and stolen moments: the range of Cooper and Marti is on display. Inspired by Walker Evans, they remind viewers here that restoring the soul of a people is to understand its identity. Their photographs break political barriers to offer a dignified portrait of one of the world’s most fascinating cities.

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