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16 March, 2010
L’ESPAI SHOWCASES THE EXHIBIT “CUBAFLASH” IN PALMA
English Photographer and Palma Resident Kirsten Leedham Displays her Fascination for Cuba
Cuba and its colourful contradictions are the focus of the exhibit English photographer and Palma resident Kirsten Leedham will hold at L’Espai, on Calle San Sebastián, 3 in Palma (across from the Balearic Parlament building), with the collaboration of Gloria Events, La Bodeguita del Medio, Comodo&Co – Serviced Office Solutions and Hermes Comunicación. CubaFlash will be inaugurated with a Bodeguita del Medio“mojito” cocktail on Thursday 18 March, at 8 pm and will remain open through 12 April, from 9am to 3pm.
CubaFlash is the result of Kirsten Leedham’s winter shoot, which highlights the political aspects of the Caribbean island that has been the centre of world controversy since the revolution enthroned Fidel Castro in power in 1959. The 26-image collection showcases the landscape, the cityscape, the daily life and the political propaganda, contrasting all those elements with the revolution imagery ever so present in Cuban life.
“I really think the idea that moved me to make this photo shoot was to see Cuba before Fidel dies”, acknowledged Kirsten Leedham, anticipating perhaps, like many others, a change of paradigm after the world’s second oldest ruling head of state (48 years in power, following Queen Elisabeth who has ruled 57 years) despairs from the face of the earth. “Many people are intrigued as to what is going to happen and I want to show Cuba as it is”, she added.
The fact is that, Midhurst born, Kirsten was initiated into photography by her grandfather who taught her the processes of developing and printing. He took her on her first assignment, a Polo match including Prince Charles, who was the first person she took a photograph of. She continued her professional career in photography second assisting in several photo studios in London and in the early 90’s she went to México for a couple of years, with the intention to do a photographic shoot, that evolved into a research project about the Mayas and the Aztecs, and learned to work with silver in the picturesque San Miguel de Allende, a UNESCO World’s Heritage Centre.
“I really learned the culture and the deep rooted history, and which in some sort of way they still continue to live as their ancestors did”, she said about her Mexican experience. Kirsten Leedham returned to London and fell in love with a shipwright and moved to Mallorca ten years ago. “I like to get the inside story, their culture to really understand their morals, their religions, the way they see life, the foundations they rest on and how the politics affects them”, she explained about her artistic and anthropological photo shoots.
In CubaFlash, Leedham’s lens portrays Cuba’s daily life, filled with all those iconic symbols, like the ever present Che Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos, José Martí and Fidel Castro’s murals in the city and country side landscape, as well as the vintage Buick, Ford, Chrysler and Dodge vehicles, that are not necessarily collectors items, but a sign of Cuban resilience to adversity. “Their endurance is extraordinary”, said Leedham. “They are very spontaneous, very happy and joyous people in spite of their dire needs”, she added. That is the message photographer Kirsten Leedham wants to transmit with CubaFlash.
“This exhibit will certainly become a landmark in L’Espai”, said Jennifer Warren-Gash, L’Espai’s event coordinator. “The art, the quality and the message are well balanced in this collection”, she added.
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