The Critical Lens of Cuban Visual Artist Eddos

La crisis. Photo: Eddos

By Helson Hernandez

HAVANA TIMES — A Cuban visual artist, Eddos casts a critical glance at the world through his lens. “My work tries to raise awareness and restore feelings,” he tells us.

HT: How did you become an artist, bearing in mind that you come from a different professional background?

Eddos: I have a mental camera. I’ve been capturing details around me since I can remember, and I record these in a way different than that of the majority. It’s what people call a photographic memory. It may sound strange, but I see a still in my mind and I start to imagine it in movement. Then, I analyze the results. Fifteen years ago, I had the opportunity of holding a stills camera and started making a living out of this. That’s when I became aware of the power and communicative advantages of this tool and decided to become an artist of the lens. The change continues down the path of knowledge, but I continue to work chiefly within these two fields, always as an artist.

La cruzada. Photo: Eddos

HT: What does your current work have in common with teaching?

E: My training as a professional is complemented by my development as an artist and in the holding of workshops. Teaching models and methods are of use to me in terms of my personal development, for, as a photographer, I am entirely self-taught. I’ve also given young people photography workshops occasionally, using participative strategies that improve interpersonal relations and develop values, hoping to instill a calling in them and possibly a profession. Teaching closes the circle, in this sense.

HT: What do you hope to achieve with your images?

E: They aim to convey a message of peace and criticize social problems. I try to produce images that are high-contrast in terms of tone and content. Photography affords me the ideal tool to cast my convictions into a visual vocabulary. I work in an abstract-figurative way, using whites and blacks for greater dramatic impact, and always on the basis of a strong concept.

My work aims to raise awareness and restore feelings, convey ideas that can restore lost values. Social ills, the aberrations of human nature, the deterioration of architecture and the environment, these are some of the issues I address most, as essential parts of our very life.

An island, a heart.

HT: Tell us about your experience with the Mision Calle album.

E: Pedazo de cielo (“A Slice of Heaven”), the album’s name, is a metaphorical allusion to the fact that it is possible to have a childhood full of love. This project consists of an album complemented by a series of photos. It was organized by an independent production house known as Mision Calle. The series is made up of thirteen 60 by 100 cm pieces. It was a great challenge for me, as I usually work on the basis of my own ideas and the resulting discourse stems from the artistic needs I experience.

In this case, I deal with 9 issues, both positive and negative, having to do with childhood. I had to stay true to these guiding principles, ponder about the lyrics and the essence the artist wanted to convey, so that the photos and music could co-exist in harmony and defend the same message. I consider the series a success – it is my best work in terms of the coherence of its discourse, production and expectations.

HT: Could these images be interpreted as a critique of certain social phenomena?

E: My work always contains reflection and criticism that aim at the good. Like many other countries, Cuba, the country I love with all of my heart, has families that neglect children. These images aim to defend the smallest fruits of the family tree, those crazy dwarfs.

HT: Do you believe values have degenerated among Cuba’s younger generations?

E: Yes, you see this clearly every day. I am out on the street observing and working with teenagers all the time. Respect and politeness are not in vogue. I am sure of this, and the government confirms it with all of the campaigns it is implementing through the mass media.

HT: What is the artist’s responsibility in view of this?

E: To assume art with a responsible attitude is something we must do with greater determination. I live on the basis of a philosophy, a set of norms I will never neglect, for that would involve ceasing to be true to myself. Being an artist doesn’t only mean being a creator. It suggests an even greater challenge, that of practicing what you preach others.

HT: Any photo exhibitions currently in mind?

E: I’ve been invited to take part in two collective exhibitions that will open as parallel showings at the next Havana Biennial in May. The first, El objeto fotografico (“The Photographic Object”), will be held at the gallery of the National Theater. The other is a project of the Caballo Galeria, to be held at the Callejon del Peluquero in Old Havana.