Havana’s Forgotten Ones

All photos by Yoanny Aldaya

By El Estornudo

Photos: Yoanny Aldaya

HAVANA TIMES – Havana’s ruins, and the people that live within them, are the Serengeti for Cuban photographers, who embark on a safari every afternoon. It’s always the same landscape, it’s always the same zebra.

However, the photographer’s eye picks up different elements in the plains of indifference, in the scrawny jungle of exhaustion and decadence. Just like a good hunter doesn’t hunt, but looks for an inflection in its roar, a break in the beast’s inevitable movement: this stupor and fleeting sadness that don’t exist in the world even in its final moments, which the hunter has brought with himself to inoculate them in the animal and landscape’s engrossed fatality.

We know that beauty is the beginning of the terrible. This is the trance that some of Yoanny Aldaya’s photos put us in: the intelligence of light and lines create aesthetic moments that come just before the horrific question: who are the “forgotten ones”?

The same broken-down buildings in the same absurd Havana take on a different weight here, another kind of density. It isn’t only a matter of theatrical light. It isn’t only a matter of Aldaya’s geometric imagination. It is a matter of strict absence: where are the “forgotten ones”?

We guess that this architecture in ruins has devoured or finally evicted its residents.

But who has devoured these buildings?

Ruins as insatiable amnesia. The city not as a public space, or a historic map, or a cultural land, but as a city in absolute stupor, like muscle paralysis, like the autophagy of the beast. Like the terrible beauty of photographs.

I’m sure the author of these photographs has taken the greatest piece of them all, and that this unexpected piece is beating, in a large, injured body, in a more or less secret photographic series, which has been devoured by this other photographic series that the author has called “The forgotten ones”.

We wouldn’t be able to say which are the decisive photos. We wouldn’t be able to positively say what we’ll say now… However, this photographer may have captured the organic key to Havana’s landscape, its working principle: the trap that it’s set out or the fate of this fragment of the city that has been photographed so many times.

It’s not impossible that he may have well hunted the entire Serengeti, once and for all.

See more photo galleries here on Havana Times.


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