I ran across the photography of Tria Giovan via a magazine spread featuring her photography showcasing gorgeous interior design. Somehow beyond the styling and interior design, I liked the photography enough to search out the photographer. In the process, I fell in love Giovan’s personal work, especially her work from time spent in Cuba in the 90’s. The work was chronicled in her book, Cuba: The Elusive Island . She chronicled the sagging structures, worn households items and people looking… I am struggling with the right word to use for what struck me the most from these photos. The young ones seem just a tad more hopeful than the older ones. In some shots, the people look as fatigued as the buildings. They are obviously living their lives, with clothes and goods that are from another era, items that where not designed to last this many years. You can see women still being women, holding up the community with their ingenuity and strength. There is grace but not jubilance in what Tria captured.
I think I was particularly struck by the honesty of her work especially since I had recently seen the spectacle that was the Chanel Resort 2017 Runway Show in the streets of Cuba. When I saw the media coverage of this show I remember thinking, “What must the locals have thought of the decadence that comes with a couture runway show?” After looking at Giovan’s work, I thought of all the Cuban immigrants who have for years spoken up for their loved ones isolated under Castro’s regime and was uncomfortable. Many of us, along photographers and film makers want to romanticize a place that is so clearly in a time capsule. Tria takes out the romantics but still captures beauty and decay in a state of commingling. You can read an interview about her time in Cuba here and see all of Tria’s personal work here.