Posts Tagged ‘On the Street’

TWO LOOKS: Alex and Rebecca

September 28, 2009

This is the first of an occasional column we are calling “Two Looks,” in which we will feature a creative couple’s work.  For this column, we’ll have each person select one example of his or her partner’s work to write about.  Not unexpectedly, the first column is called “Two Looks: Alex and Rebecca.” ––Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb


Alex Webb, Havana, 1993

Alex Webb, Havana, 1993

This quiet photograph of Alex’s has grown into one of my favorites in our Cuba book.  Partly, it’s because it’s the only “portrait” in Violet Isle of Fidel, which I like for a couple of reasons.  One is that it’s very indicative of the island itself, where one sees plenty of posters and billboards celebrating Che Guevara and José Martí, but few of Fidel Castro himself.  And I love the little surprise in the photo, that at first you think his right index finger is raised in the air because he’s in the midst of giving a speech or perhaps even admonishing someone (especially with the word, “Silencio,” posted on the wall to the left of the portrait), and then you notice, upon closer inspection, that his right finger is actually poised in the air because he’s playing chess.  And lastly, I find myself drawn to the sparseness and simplicity of this interior –– the drab yet welcoming yellow walls and the forlorn blue of the fan –– because it seems somehow quintessentially Cuban.––Rebecca Norris Webb


Rebecca Norris Webb, Havana, 2008

Rebecca Norris Webb, Havana, 2008

What is it about this photograph from a rooftop in Havana that so intrigues me?  Part of it is that it initially feels like a street photograph: a dominant figure in the foreground, a little figure deep in the background, with the activity centered on the latter.  This seems at first to be familiar photographic territory.  But what totally confounds my expectations is that these figures are not human, but animals, fighting cocks. And even more startling is that the rooster in the background –– his legs shaved, his wings flapping ––  looks like a little man, arms akimbo.  Then I see that he is tied to a cement block.  I am immersed in that strange, sometimes unsettling, and often beautiful world that Rebecca so often seems to discover –– her territory –– where sometimes the dramas in the natural world feel somehow human, and where sometimes her images lift off into metaphor.––Alex Webb


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