Sleeping with…a photo exhibition of Cuban bedrooms

“Blue” – Enrique Rottemberg

I came across this article in a Canadian magazine on Cuba.  The colors and texture immediately grabbed me.  I love the notion that a bed bookends our life cycle, and the intimacy of that whole concept.  I hope to meet with these photographers on my next trip to Cuba in March.  In the meantime, I think their work – and the concept behind it – is very interesting.

Sleeping with…

By Cristina Diaz

Sleeping with…is the photo exhibition of artists Enrique Rottemberg and Carlos Otero showcased during Photography month in November at the Cuban Photo Library.  This exhibition caused intense emotions and enormous interest in both the public and critics.  In direct contrast to the incessant public spectacle with which the lives of Cubans tend to be perceived, immersed in music and unmotivated bustle and clamor, this exhibit tells a different story.

We are introduced to people’s most secret space, the one of dreams, through photos of the most private place of a home, the bedroom.  These are photos to the intention of anonymous dreamers, the “unknown soldiers,” as Enrique Rottemberg called them in his opening speech, thanking the thousand people throughout the island who opened their doors to the widest of their hospitality.

The absence of inhabitants in the photographs fills the environments with subjective content, giving soul to objects that contain bits of the story of each character as well as their diffused national and personal identity.  These portraits of absence call on our own ability to dream, summoning the spectators’ consciousness and unconsciousness; from within the bedroom to the inside of us.

Enrique Rottemberg, award-winning Israeli filmmaker with seven feature films, also a writer and photographer, has been living in Cuba for more than 16 years.

It is in Cuba where his passion for photography was born.  Constantly moved by subjective conflicts, by the dark side of the heart, always with a tone more comical-tragic than dramatic, more human than epic, he uses his camera to steal the soul, always questioning ethics and power in the exercise of art.

Carlos Otero is a Cuban photographer who arose from the deep sea as champion of several national and international underwater photography events, work that has been showcased in many places.  His present work has an acute social involvement and an incisive sensitivity to his country’s present and the people who live there.

Beds contain a cycle.  It is usually where life is conceived and where it ends.  In the interval, the bed is the permanent witness of our loves and disappointments, of nightmares and sleepless nights, of solitude and company, of our dreams.  It is not an allegory, not a symbol, it is concretely that bed, that mirror, it is that red and those dogs on the wall.

The images express an emphatic silence, a petrification of time, a disturbing perpetuity.  Faceless, as voiceless is the great Cuban movie “Suite Havana”, Sleeping with…makes us see what is not in our everyday tamed vision.


4 comments for “Sleeping with…a photo exhibition of Cuban bedrooms

  1. February 13, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    I am always impressed with your tremendous talent when it comes to writing. You are able to make everything just come right off the page.

  2. February 10, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    I was fortunate enough to recently have Carlos as a Cuban guide in a workshop I conducted in Cuba last week for the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. While there I was able to view this beautiful collection of images. They are as amazing as the photographer Carlos Otero that made them. He, along with many other Cuban photographers, have such a remarkable point of view.

  3. Jon
    February 10, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    I just came across this article and returning from Cuba 4 days ago. Carlos was my guide while there. A warmer human being, you would be hard pressed to find. The man has an amazing eye for seeing compositions as well!

  4. Yolanda Hassan
    June 12, 2016 at 11:47 am

    My name is Yolanda and I have recently been on a wonderful life changing trip to Cuba which is where my mother was born. I really like the Bohemian colourful bedroom where I stayed in Havana. I need to see some pictures so that I can create my own old style Havana bedroom in London Can you advise?
    Kind Regards

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