Moderated by Olga Garay, Executive Director, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs
Ever since Americans first likened Cuba to a damsel in distress — two hundred years ago, when the island country was under threat from imperial Spain — we have seen Cuba as less of a country than an idea. The neighboring nation appears alternately innocent and menacing, culturally exotic or repressed by government, an edenic place to escape or a retrograde regime from which refugees flee. With travel restrictions in place since the Cuban revolution, images and impressions have become even more powerful, as the rare legal way to see the land: the poor but vibrant Havana of Walker Evans; the cigars and bars of Ernest Hemingway; contemporary shots of streets brimming with decades-old cars and bordered by centuries-old buildings. As the Getty opens its exhibition, “A Revolutionary Project: Cuba from Walker Evans to Now,” Zócalo invites a panel of photographers and scholars of Cuba — including musician and Cuban music expert Ned Sublette; photographer Virginia Beahan, who has worked extensively in Cuba; and professor of Cuban history Lillian Guerra — to ask how images of the country have shaped and complicated its relationship with Americans.
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