Words and Photos by Alessandro Zuek Simonetti, Intro by Martei Korley—
Our friend and esteemed photographer Alessandro Zuek Simonetti always has an interesting viewpoint, which is exactly why I immediately asked him to share images from his recent journey to Cuba, sight unseen. A graduate of Venice’s Academy of Fine Arts and a veteran graffiti artist, Simonetti’s images have been published in glossies like GQ and exhibited at London’s Tate Gallery and NYC’s Leica Gallery. But those are far from the most interesting things to say about Alessandro. He is a mean chef and then there is the work: It stays close to the ground, finding beauty and catharsis on every scale and level around him. Here’s what Alessandro had to say about his Cuba series:
I had the desire to go to Cuba before everything would change and, a year after I shot these images (in December 2011—Ed), it feels like a lot has changed.
A friend of mine told me prior to going that “Cuba looks like the city of Naples after a bomb raid.” He was right—the decadence I felt in Havana captured me more in an intimate way than a photographic one. I found myself sort of blocked from shooting in Havana since I had a constant feeling of deja vu. The images I was seeing in the city were the stereotype of what I knew before I was even landing. Most of the shots I took were shot outside of Havana, indeed.
I guess my Spanish was good enough ’cause I spent 12 days and I didn’t plan at all—just got a ticket and packed my stuff. Not even a Lonely Planet in my pocket!
Scroll through below for the rest of Alessandro’s Cuba photo essay: