The New York Times photography blog LENS has some stunning photographs of el campo in Cuba taken by Italian photographer Ernesto Bazan:
“In an hour and a half from Havana, I would be in another era,” Mr. Bazan said by phone from Spain, where he had been conducting editing workshops. “The Cuban countryside is stuck in time. Havana was more agitated, but the countryside had an extraordinary slowness. They lived off their land, they had animals, so they could eat better. It was different from the city where people felt all the economic restrictions. In the countryside it was poverty with dignity.”
He collected 88 of those images in “Al Campo,” his latest self-published book about the island that first enchanted him in 1992. Like his previous work, it was done in collaboration with his many former students, who offered emotional and financial support as well as editing advice as he sorted through his photographs.
Mr. Bazan’s countryside visits came to an end in 2006, when he and his family left Cuba after suspicious authorities disapproved of his photography classes, which they thought were unauthorized journalism seminars. He harbors hope to return to the island and resume his friendships and photography. And a different Fidel — his farmer friend — still advises patience, most recently during an unexpected call in April.
“He told me, ‘Ernesto, we are waiting for you,’ and that gave me optimism,” he said. “I believe in his words, that there is hope I can return to Cuban before my life is over. And if that doesn’t happen, then at least my children can go to a free Cuba in their lifetime.”