Receptions: Dec 7, Jan 4, 5 – 9 pm
HAVANA: PIERCING THE DARKNESS
Three artists present their vision of Havana, one of the most intriguing cities in the world where renovated palaces coexist with colonial ruins, and the loss of opportunity is countered with seemingly unmitigated hope.
“To dare to interpret this tropical garden is a risky game. Photographers have come and gone before me and others will follow—chasing butterflies. “ (Susan Bank)
“A risky game…” – however more and more artists visit Cuba, inhale its air and, intoxicated, come back there again and again relentlessly drawn by the magnet of instantly established highly personal relationships with this unique world.
The three artists presenting their works at Dalet are not competitors, for each of them multi-faced Havana unveiled its individual features. The exhibition thus, like a novel, consists of three parts, three love stories.
Part 1. “they have nothing to give but their soul in a cup of coffee…”
Susan Bank’s romance with Cuba began in 1999 when she first time arrived at Havana, the city that later became an interlude for more then 20 trips to the “island in the shape of a crocodile.” Trying “to get inside the skin of the real players,” she lived in private homes in Centro Habana “waiting in long stationary lines in markets where there is nothing to buy, enduring sleepless nights interrupted by a chorus of barking dogs…”
And thus it came – “a desire to peel away the exotic veneer of Havana, to unveil the submerged realities of that illusive citadel.”
"... I wait in shifty shadows for the invisible, where the real slips seamlessly into the surreal, where the mask of a smile is always for sale, and Cubans have nothing to give but their soul in a cup of coffee."
- Susan Bank
Susan S. Bank of Philadelphia PA and Portsmouth NH, educated at Barnard College and the University of Edinburgh. Known for producing long -term photo essays beginning with the Salisbury Beach series, she spent one seventh of her life from 1999 - 2009 working on the island of Cuba.
Bank has exhibited widely in the United States including the Gabarron Foundation, NYC, New York Photo Festival, the SouthEast Museum of Photography, Michener Museum of Art, The Print Center, Philadelphia, the Griffin Museum of Art, FotoFest, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Blue Sky Gallery, Lehigh University Art Galleries, Danforth Museum of Art, MASS College of Art, University of Maine Museum of Art, Invision Masters with Sid Kaplan and Larry Fink. In Latin America she has exhibited at the Manual Alvarez Bravo Center, Oaxaca Mexico and several venues in Cuba, including The Fototeca in Havana and the 6th Habana Bienal.
Locally, selected awards included Fleisher Challenge Grant Artist, Perkins Center for the Arts Juror’s Excellence Awards.
Selected national awards include “The Photo Project’ juried by Anne W. Tucker and shown at Galveston Arts Center, FotofFest 2006; the Portfolio Project Prize by Rod Slemmons at Santa Fe Review 2005 (now The Center); and Aperture Portfolio Prize Runner Up. Twice she was a finalist for the Duke/Honickman First Book Prize.
Her photographs are held in museum collections, in the United States, Mexico, Spain, and Cuba, and most recently in the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona Tucson.
Presently exhibiting at the Michener Museum of Art in “Making Magic: Beauty in Word and Image curated by Brian Peterson, future exhibition at the Fototeca Nacional, Pachuca, Mexico, and a collaborated with Cuban artist/photographer, Juan Carlos Alom.
She works with a handheld Leica M6 using available light.
Part 2. “…the expectation of something good just around the corner…”
Ilya Genin succeeded in the attempts to capture the vibe he felt exploring the streets of La Habana Vieja and the complex emotions he experienced conversing in Spanish with the Cubans. For Ilya “Havana is about its people – their openness, generosity, dignity and the joie de vivre so palpable in most human contacts.” Trying to emphasize duality: beauty and sadness, energy and lassitude, bluster and resignation, Genin makes a special accent on the spirit of anticipation, “the expectation of a change in the air, of something good just around the corner….” Where a straight photo is not enough, Genin uses collages to tell the story.
"If I succeeded, I credit the Habaneras for their warmth and kindness, for their light and sincere welcome.
If I failed, it is only because my visual language is too limited to describe my fascination with Cuba and its people."
- Ilya Genin
Ilya Genin started photographing while attending high school in Kiev, Ukraine.
His work in photography was interrupted by the Medical School and subsequent work as a physician, first in Kiev and then in the USA. Family obligations proved to be a diversion as well.
He is now splitting his time between the practice of Cardiology and learning the art of storytelling using the photographs and photographic collages.
Ilya’s current passion is Cuba and his work on Havana and its people has won several awards from Black and White Magazine; this work was the subject of several solo shows and the book is in the works.
Genin leads the photography critique workshop at the Princeton Photography Club called U Get What U Pay For.
Part 3. “ it is a wonderful contradiction…
For Ron Tarver, Pulitzer prize winning photographer, Havana is “lethargically energetic, immaculately filthy, an illusive illumination. It is a wonderful contradiction.”
"For every answer given to explain Havana, there are dozen more questions. It is a society held together by ingenuity, floating on an outdated dream."
- Ron Tarver
Ron Tarver, received his BA in Journalism and Graphic Arts from Northeaster State University in Oklahoma, and has been a staff photographer at The Philadelphia Inquirer since 1983. In addition to his newspaper publications, his work has appeared in National Geographic, Life, Time, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, and Black and White Magazine. He is a co-author of the book We Were There: Voices of African American Veterans, published by Harper Collins in 2004, which was accompanied by a traveling exhibition that debuted at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. He shares the 2012 Pulitzer Prize at the Philadelphia Inquirer for his work on a series documenting school violence in the Philadelphia public school system.
A recipient of the prestigious Pew Fellowship in the Arts, Tarver has also received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and an Independence Foundation Fellowship. He was named one of the Delaware Valley's "50 Rising Stars in the Arts" by Seven Arts Magazine and is an alumni of the Center For Emerging Visual Artists. Tarver offers private photography instruction, workshops, and photo excursions through his company, Photo-Ops, and serves as Visiting Assistant Professor of Studio Art at Swarthmore College.
Tarver's work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in over 30 solo and 50 group exhibitions and is included in many private, corporate, and museum collections, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, Oklahoma Museum of History and the National Museum of American Art of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.
Dalet Gallery, 141 N 2nd Str, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Hours: Wed– Sat noon – 6PM and by app.