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Carl De Keyzer: Cuba between communism and capitalism

Magnum-photographer Carl De Keyzer (1958) stayed in Cuba for three months. He made a series on the uncertain transition from communism to capitalism.

September 25, 2016
Text: Guido van Eijck

Havana, Cuba 2015. Book 'Cuba, La Lucha'.

Havana, Cuba 2015. Book ‘Cuba, La Lucha’.

Struggle, the need to survive, a lust for life: the meaning of the Spanish word la lucha pertains to the hard lives of Cubans trying to take care of themselves as well as to their optimism.

It is an often­-heard phrase in current day Cuba, a country changing a communist system for a capitalist one. Part of the population hopes for a better future. Others mostly fear the uncertainty that awaits them.

De Keyzer shuns photographical cliches. So we won’t get to see shuffling old ladies in the street or run down taxis. Instead, he photographed strong personalities and surprising scenes in this once secluded society. He shows a terrace where tourists can buy postcards of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, and a run­down taxi with a hypermodern video system.

The Belgian photographer has done several projects on the fall of communism. In the 1980s he travelled through the Soviet Union and made the book Homo Sovieticus (1989). East of Eden (1996) was the result of two years travelling through Eastern Europe. For Zona (2003) he photographed daily life in Siberian prisons. De Keyzer is a member of the renowned photographer agency Magnum Photos.