You've heard about it and must have seen photos of the streets of Old Havana replete with Detroit's massive classics. But when you are in Havana and see it for yourself, when you're personally immersed in the immediate reality of the carefully preserved fleet of Chevys and Fords and Buicks of the past, you're struck by the sight of so many cars which each in isolation would warrant a second look in the U.S. The aggregation of these exceptions gives the feeling of stumbling into a movie set, as one after another of these relics rumble by without ceremony, until the sight of a car with a production date within the past half-century seems incongruous and is what prompts the double-take.
Puttering along modestly in the shadow of the hulking American relics are a great many Ladas, the relatively diminutive Russian imports that began to appear in Cuba in the mid-1970s, and which represented more than 30% of the cars in Cuba by the end of the 1980s. Their straight, simple lines serve as a foil to the curves and contours of the vintage American autos, and in profile resemble the vehicular equivalent of a palindrome. Though they are not quite as photogenic as the classic American cars, I began to appreciate their look which harkens back to a later distant decade but which still plays well against the textures of the decaying architecture of Old Havana.
Looking forward to going back to Cuba.
"Green Lada" pictured at top.
See more images from this series on Instagram, @michele_dragonetti. Still more to come.
I’m excited to be part of the artUNPRIMED pop-up show, open through May 15 at 105 Newtown Lane in East Hampton, NY. See artunprimed.com for more information on the show and other exhibiting artists.
I am also showing a piece from my Boat Hulls series in the Guild Hall 79th Artist Members Exhibition, through June 3, 2017, in East Hampton, NY.