Portfolio: Ernesto Bazan

From "Life and death" Project - Photo by Ernesto Bazan

From the project "Life and death" - Photo by Ernesto Bazan

    Winner Of W. Eugene Smith Award 1998

Life and death

For the last three years, I’ve been teaching a wonderful workshop during the famous Cuban celebrations of Day of the Dead. I simply love these intense and delicate relations they have with their deceased. This tradition is very special in its apparent simplicity. After the grieving, a new rapport is established between the living ones and x the deceased as if the latter were still here as they are indeed in the heart and spirit of their families.

Besides attending the many cemeteries filled with people day and night, we have also had a very generous access to photograph the largest slaughterhouse in town. Each year, devoting equal time to the pig and cow areas, I try to get images from this bloody, fascinating inferno.

I my work, I like to establish a certain distance between the moment of the shoot and the scrutiny of the results. After three years of only looking at contacts and small 5×7 working prints, I’ve finally had the desire and the time to make larger fiber based prints.

By looking at them over and over again in all these months, I realized that the images reflect my way of looking at life and death, always two recurrent themes in my photographic career.

The images have made me more aware that these important aspects of our existence can become a long term project, if I will continue to probe it for some more years down the road as I hope. The Mexican images can be mixed to other existing (unedited or partially edited) photographs taken in Cuba, Ecuador, Peru and elsewhere in these years, and with new pictures still in the making where destiny will take me, where life unfolds before my child-like eyes everyday.

Ernesto Bazan

Born in Palermo, Sicily, currently residing in both Brooklyn, N.Y., and Havana, Cuba, Ernesto Bazan has been photographing the changing lives of Cubans since the collapse of the Soviet Union. “Many people have lost their sense of identity,” Bazan wrote in his winning proposal, “yet…a profound sense of dignity and a great love for life remains.”

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