Ever since Fidel Castro came to power as the leader of Cuba's communist regime in 1959, Havana has remained all but impenetrable to the outside world. The revolution cut Cuba off from the West, but at the same time preserved a century of built substance and style through the accident of fmancial stagnation. Without capital investment, time stood still, and five epochs of architectural style have survived to the present day.
Like the structures he photographs, Engels uses a timeless approach to the artistic and technical aspect of his work. He uses a Sinar camera with a 4 x 5 inch format, standing under a darkening cloth, just as photographers did a century ago. Using a Polaroid image to feel and see the light, Engels takes a single shot of each building. Most of these images were taken during die month of February, in 1997 and 1999 respectively.
These photographs of apartment dwellings, office buildings, private residences, and places of worship tell a story on their own. Their haunting images seem to speak about more than just the men who made them or the materials they are made of. The buildings and streetscapes depicted in Havana speak to us of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. They are resonant with history, and with culture, and they tell us a story that is not really about architecture at all, but one of change and immutability, of despair and hope.
Beth Dunlop/HAVANA the photography of Hans Engels
Hans Engels Radio Interview Bayern2 2008
This is a travelling exhibition. If you are interested in the project...contact Hans Engels. It shows 20 colourphotographs 60/80cm framesize and one Tryptichon 213/60cm.
HAVANA the photograpy of Hans Engels at Amazon
Julio Alvarez residence
Cuban Telephone Company
Alberto de Armas residence
Villa in Vibora
Palacio de las Ursulinas
Casa de Dámasco Guitiérrez Cano
Herminia García residence
La Moderna Poesia bookstore
Olan Tower Building
Apartment Building on Malecón
Row houses on Malecón, Triptychon