Yo - 1960? - Gelatin Print - ~41 x 29 inches - © Raul Martinez
When I visited Magnan Metz Gallery in New York City during the summer for the Raul Martinez exhibit, this was the photograph that grabbed my attention.
The title "Yo" means "Me." The negative for this photograph is probably lost to time. I would think that in Cuba, archival temperature regulated storage exists for only the elite. If you could see this in its original size, you would hold his gaze and wonder.
When I hold his gaze, I am grateful to the U.S.A. that we call home and country now. When I hold his gaze, I see the history that has happened since the shutter snapped on the day Raul Martinez stopped this boy on what I assume was a Cuban street. Did any one know what was truly happening in Cuba after the Castro take over in 1959? Did any one predict all the years, damage, pain, exiles, prisoners, etc.? Just hold his gaze…makes me wonder…
The Cuba that belonged to my parents is a mythological place to me, almost as if full of unicorns and gryphons. Cuba is a real place where there is poverty and oppression. Cuba is an island lost and largely ignored. If Cuba had any thing the rest of the world wanted, history would be very different!
A recent article in the Miami Herald had a story about a man who was arrested because of "dangerousness," for simply walking with a tourist (who actually was his brother in law). After the arrest, the two men decided to walk a measured distance apart and not meet until reaching their destination. I also write this with a measured distance, because it is an exiles' fear our actions in the U.S may affect those living in Cuba. With respect to that fear, much of what I would like to write about "Yo" will remain off-line.
What do you think about "Yo?" Does it strike you? Would you think of Cuba if you did not know the artist was Cuban?
Angeline Marie of