Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search

 


Cuba’s Kiwi Connection

Cuba’s Kiwi Connection

by Debbie Griffiths
April 29, 2014

Maureen Tan is trying to convince me not to take her photograph. I should’ve expected this. When once described by a colleague as “glamorous”, she laughingly insisted that her clothes were from a bargain store. Maureen remains humble – but has an inexplicable talent for turning the scruffy and ordinary into something magical and it’s obvious in her first solo photography exhibition: Boatless Horizon.

The Ponsonby graphic designer has been chosen as one of three emerging photographers to show their work at the Depot Artspace in Devonport during Flora Photographica Aotearoa, an exhibition from the renowned McNamara Gallery Photography, opening on Saturday 24 May.

Maureen’s photographs are of everyday life in socialist Cuba. They’re compelling and gripping and for the Depot curator, Robyn Gibson, the decision to include Maureen’s work was easy.

“It has that point of difference. Her photographs have serenity and a simplicity that keeps your interest.”

Ms Gibson was also immediately attracted to the “tactile” nature of Maureen’s photographs. They point to the stark difference between our country and everyday life in the Caribbean island nation.

It’s exactly what Maureen wanted to portray when she spent a day with a local photographer during her two months living in Cuba last year.

“I think he (the photographer) found it strange where I pointed my camera and what I considered to be interesting images.”

Amidst a crumbling and neglected backdrop where Cubans are not permitted to board boats, the average income is $US10 per month and surveillance is omnipresent, she found pride and poise.

She and her family immersed themselves in Havana culture and gained access tourists wouldn’t normally have.

“We got to know people on a personal level. We were invited into their homes and learned about their lives. To be able to spend time and form friendships with locals enabled us to understand what it's really like.”

She got told off for taking pictures in the local ration shops where shelves were lined with cigarettes, rum, toothpaste, rice and eggs – and not much else. She walked amongst crumbling buildings where people flourish in spite of their hardships. What emerged are starkly beautiful images of Cubans and their lives.

“They’re not meant to be pretty shots,” admits Maureen. “They’re more realistic.”

The exhibition is a chance for Aucklanders to see the work of someone who’s considered one of New Zealand’s most promising emerging talents.

Acclaimed arts patron, Sir James Wallace, was so impressed by her photographs that he acquired three for his collection. They will now forever be part of the prestigious Wallace Arts Trust.

Maureen’s photographs have also caught the eye of The Digital Darkroom owner, John Schroeder, who was eager to help with printing.

“She has a wonderful insight in her work. Her observation of light is refreshing and she translates this into glorious images.”

Maureen is flattered by the recognition she’s receiving for her work and that she’s been awarded the opportunity of a solo exhibition during Auckland’s Festival of Photography. She’s hoping visitors to the community art gallery embrace the chance to see beyond Cuba’s facade of jazz, rum and vintage cars.

“We see urban decay and derelict buildings but they're also people’s homes. The reality was much more interesting than the sanitised and surreal tourist attractions such as cathedrals and museums.

The freedom New Zealanders take for granted is unimaginable by Cubans. Maureen Tan’s thought-provoking images are a small but potent way to tell their story.

What: Maureen Tan: Boatless Horizon
Where: Depot Artspace, Clarence Street, Devonport
Contact: www.depotartspace.co.nz | 09 963 2331
When: Exhibition opening: Saturday 24 May from 1 – 3pm. Runs until 12 June
Entry: Free

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Game Review: Midsomer Murders Meets First Year Philosophy

Developed by The Chinese Room, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture sees the player exploring what appears to be a recently abandoned idyllic English village trying to figure out where everybody's gone. Spoiler: they've gone to the rapture. (On a serious note, this review contains plot spoilers.) More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: Clear Science

It was really after his move to Wellington, to Victoria University, that it became apparent that Sir Paul Cllaghan was much more than an eminent physicist... More>>

ALSO:

Francis Cook: Weekend SportzMania! All Blacks! Netball!

Sports were on all weekend. I normally don’t write about sports but with Richie McCaw tipped to be the next Prime Minister, and Colin Craig arguing sports are almost as important as politics, I thought “what better time to start!” More>>

ALSO:

Beervana: Aussie Pav Beer Declared Taste Of NZ

In a surprising upset, an Australian beer modelled on the pavlova, created by Brisbane brewery Newstead Brewing, the 250 Beers blog and Scratch Bar, has been announced the winner at the Beervana craft beer festival ‘Flag Brew’ competition, which challenged media and brewing teams to capture the distinctive taste of New Zealand. More>>

ALSO:

Transport: Air NZ Teams Up With All Blacks For Men In Black Video

Inspired by the Columbia Pictures global film franchise Men in Black, Air New Zealand’s latest safety instalment features All Blacks’ Captain Richie McCaw and Dan Carter as Men in Black agents. More>>

ALSO:

World Champions: BRADAS Of Identity Company Take On The World And Win Gold

This is only the second time since NZ has qualified for the HHI world finals that NZ has taken home a GOLD medal in this division. REQUEST Dance Crew being the only other NZ crew to achieve this. New Zealands only other medal this year was Silver for the Royal Family in a very close final in the Megacrew division. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: Contrary To Popular Belief - Lloyd Geering

Many older Dunediners like myself, and indeed older Presbyterians and others throughout the country, will remember the controversy aroused by the articles and speeches of Professor Geering, Principal of Knox College Theological Hall in the late 1960s... More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Culture
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news