Art in Los Angeles CA. David Stork 10 Blocks Square, Havana 1999 at Couturier Gallery. January 10 – February 14, 2015. Artist’s Opening Reception, Saturday, January 10, 6–8pm. Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 5pm.
Art in Los Angeles. Couturier Gallery is pleased to present David Stork: 10 Blocks Square- Havana 1999, photographs documenting isolated moments captured in a 10 square block area of Havana that well describe the socio/political situation at the very end of 20th century Cuba. The 25 photos in the show reveal the daily routine of finding food, transport, money and resources and the inexorable wait for the passage of time or, in a word, survival. The photographs expose a small part of a large island representing a much larger state of affairs.
David Stork (b. 1963 South Africa, resides in Los Angeles) lived within the diplomatic community of Havana in the late 1980s when his father was the Dutch Ambassador to Cuba. Fully immersed into the Cuban existence, Stork returned to Havana in 1999, not long after the end of the “Periodo especial” (the Special Period), a time when all economic aid from the USSR to Cuba stopped with the dissolution of the Soviet Union caused brutal shortages of food, fuel and a general collapse of the island’s economy. Stork walked the streets of the city with which he was thoroughly familiar and watched Cuba wither. Equipped with a Holga camera, he defined a starting and ending point for his daily journey which always remained the same, “…Santo Tomas 13 in Centro Habana between Lindero and Nueva del Pilar, …any direction, any time, out the door, left or right and keep on walking. Aimlessly, staying in the shade, seeing isolated moments that spoke to the Cuban condition.”
Stork’s images manage to capture the resolve of the people: their determination, pride, innovation and humanity in the midst of decay and corrosion. One surreal image reveals a lone horse without rein or saddle waiting on a sidewalk, just as so many Cubans spend their time waiting and waiting; another shows two absurdly contrasting women carrying bags with a little food walking the dilapidated streets. There is the haunting image of a once grand façade of a 1940s moderne movie theatre graced by a giant clock missing its hands, faded in time.
The Holga camera lends these images a further sense of crudeness by the nature of the circular framing the lens of this plastic Chinese (Hong Kong) camera leaves on the negative, yielding pictures that exhibit blur, light leaks, and other distortions. Stork further distills his black and white imagery by printing with high contrast which enhances the focus on details of importance.
In addition to extensively documenting Cuba, David Stork’s other areas of investigation include Russia and The Republics, Nicolae Ceausescu’s Romania, China and Tibet, Eastern and Western Europe, Mexico, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. His work and essays have been published throughout the world including the Los Angeles Times, Detour Magazine, Spark-South Korea, Amnesty International Magazine, Euro, Die Weltwoche, Venice Magazine, Camera and Darkroom.
Art in Los Angeles. Couturier Gallery http://www.couturiergallery.com/