For the book and exhibition of Violet Isle, we chose to collaborate in order to create a more complicated and multi-layered portrait of Cuba, one that explores not just the streets of this Caribbean island, but also the relationship between Cubans and the natural world. Interweaving our work, we discovered, expanded upon our understanding of Cuba, upon the notion of an island in a kind of bubble — a political, economic, social, and ecological bubble –– the latter, which scientists now say, may protect Cuba environmentally because of the dearth of cars and plastics and other consumer goods. This collaboration also allowed us to embrace visually and conceptually the enigma of Cuba, what Pico Iyer calls, the “ambiguous island.”
Ultimately, we feel our Cuba photographs interwoven in the book or exhibited together –– with their echoes and tensions and cracks and contradictions –– create a more dynamic and complex portrait of the violet isle, a place prone to both political and romantic cliches, than either of our bodies of work shown separately. That’s what we found so fascinating and mysterious and humbling about collaborating on this project.
“Cracks are a given between one collaborator and another,” the poet CD Wright once wrote about her collaboration with the photographer Deborah Luster, “that’s how the light gets in.”––Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb
Leading up to the book launch/opening of Violet Isle, we will be posting on a more regular basis between now and Thursday, Nov. 5th. We welcome your thoughtful questions and insightful comments, especially those about Cuba, Violet Isle, collaboration, and the process of making books.––AW and RNW