Headlines about Cuba conjure business opportunities, regime change, and tourist delights, but on the ground a hidden story is unfolding. There’s excitement about new opportunities; fear about the risks to national identify and social equality. This debate is in high relief in the world of art, where money, the state, and personal expression collide… and have for 25 years.
EVOLUTION CUBA brings you provocative short documentaries about Cuban artists navigating their country's transformation. We've begun the first three...
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LOS HERMANOS / TWO BROTHERS
Meet Ilmar and Aldo López-Gavilán, virtuoso musicians born in Havana. At 14 the Cuban government sent Ilmar to Russia to study violin. He never returned, ultimately playing for the Queen of Spain, President Obama, and in Carnegie Hall. Now Ilmar lives in New York and leads a string quartet that inspires kids of color to become classical musicians.
Aldo, 6 years younger, remained in Havana, mentored by some of the world’s best jazz pianists. Acclaimed by conductors and musicians worldwide for his classical chops and jazz compositions, he is virtually unknown in the U.S. But that may be about to change, as shifting geopolitics spur an American tour with his brother, and the promise of recognition.
Ivan Soca Pascual is a fine art photographer who spent his youth in East Berlin and Leningrad as the son of Cuban diplomats. Well-known on the island for his images of Cuba’s most famous musicians, Ivan eschews money and gives away his work for free.
When his luck lands him one of the few Cuban press passes to cover the historic Rolling Stones concert, he knows the moment is emblematic—but of what? The capitalist invasion? The end of socialism? The beginning of opportunity? Ironically, as he documents the multimillion dollar show, the state-owned Italian sports car he drives for work breaks down (not everyone drives a ‘55 Chevy). The government can’t afford to fix it, so Ivan must now reconsider his relationship to money.
BRINGING BACK THE LIGHT
Kadir López is #3 on the Huffington Post’s 10 International Artists to Watch list. "Bringing Light Back to Havana," his passion project, aims to repair the once-elegant marquees of Havana’s heyday theaters and clubs.
The cash-strapped Cuban government can’t foot the bill, so Kadir turns entrepreneurial. Phase one is completed courtesy of a chance sale to Will Smith and Jada Pinkett. What will come next?
Against the backdrop of Obama's first appearance in Cuba, Kadir's campaign becomes itself an art project—a sardonic, nostalgic, and cautionary commentary on history and memory—both Cuban and American.