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Barry Brooks, Havana Cuba (1996)

Barry Brooks, Havana Cuba (1996), photo [Havana Gallery, Vancouver BC, Thru Nov]

Barry Brooks: En Botellla, photographs of Cuba

Havana Gallery, Vancouver BC
Thru November

The photographs of Vancouver artist Barry Brooks were first seen in the Havana Gallery’s 1996 inaugural show. In the current exhibit, the original 45 prints in his Cuba series are pared down to a select number. Brooks dedicates this selection to the Cuban people’s defiance and ingenuity in the face of economic and political adversity.

To the eye of a West Coast resident, the images are immediately perceived as foreign places. The colonial architecture, the fountain sculptures, streets filled with rubble and cars that would be antiques anywhere else in North America all make strong statements about the economic deprivations of Cuba’s urban people. His photographs of crumbling masonry structures teeming with residents underscore the economic conditions of the country where the average monthly salary is reported to be about $11 U.S.

But these are images of hope and nonconformity. Brooks' clear, sharp and graphic photographs seem to capture even the renovation sounds of hammering and drilling, the energy of salsa music coming through the windows, and the chatter of children still, at play. His formal compositions and sophisticated use of color add a paradoxical elegance to these portraits of poverty and anticipation.

© Mia Johnson

 Sun, Nov 10, 2002