From the Publisher
Ever since Fidel Castro came to power as the leader of Cuba's communist regime in 1959, Havana has remained all but impenetrable to the outside world. The revolution cut Cuba off from the West, but at the same time preserved a century of built substance and style through the accident of fmancial stagnation. Without capital investment, time stood still, and five epochs of architectural style have survived to the present day. From the majesty of colonial city palaces to the half-hearted hope of heroic modernism, Engels' photographs show a city in silent transition, a microcosm of architecture through the ages. All of the structures picttired here were built in the twentieth century, but for the most part they have suffered from neglect in the form of peeling paint and stucco, &M grime, and abandonment. Yet there is utter beauty and dignity here-a sense of being trapped in time-that is no longer evident in America's everchanging cities. Like the structures he photographs, Engels uses a timeless approach to the artistic and technical aspect of his work. He uses a Sinar catnera with a 4 x 5 inch format, standing under a darkening cloth, just as photographers did a century ago. Using a Polaroid image to feel and see the light, Engels takes a single shot of each building. Most of these images were taken during die month of February, in 1997 and 1999 respectively. These photographs of apartment dwellings, office buildings, private residences, and places of worship tell a story on their own. Their haunting images seem to speak about more than just the men who made them or the materials they are made of. The buildings and streetscapes depicted in Havana speak to us of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. They are resonant with history, and with culture, and they tell us a story that is not really about architecture at all, but one of change and immutability, of despair and hope.
About the Author
HANS ENGELS is a Munich-based photographer who has been specializing in architectural topics-from historical themes to modern trends for almost twenty years. His photographs have been published in numerous books and magazines, and have been featured in exhibitions throughout Europe.