In 1969 Fidel Castro declared his government atheist – supposedly because he needed Cubans to work through the sugar harvest instead of take a Chrissy holiday. In ’9’ Pope Jean Paul II ordered the Christmas break to be re-instated but according to photographer Francois Ollivier, Cuban’s haven’t really taken to it even still; not for lack of want – they’ve just got more pressing things to worry about. Francois was there through December last year, and his series La vida continua gives a sense of what Cuba’s like while most of the western world are worrying about which box of Lego to buy their little nephew.
Last December was my 3rd trip in Cuba in 3 years. My girlfriend and I visited a lot of places (Havana, Vinales, Playa Larga, Cienfuegos, Trinidad) and we were as usual amazed by the beauty of things and humans here. I did not want to get really political with the images, but the truth is that when you spend talking time to Cubans, there are some stuff you can’t ignore. The expression “trapped in paradise” is a feeling that often comes up in conversation. So I decided to treat what I felt for the people the “nice” way. I concentrated my efforts on making images that reflect life in Cuba, tainted with some melancholia and the hope for a better future.
It’s my third trip here and I’ve heard the same story dozens of times : Cubans feel stuck and unable to move forward; like they’re trapped in a natural paradise. In the meantime, life goes on.
I hope you get the idea, it’s really clear in my mind, but sometimes it’s hard to explain. People are not sad, or starving. They just want to live like we do, have access to things, be able to travel, get proper jobs. They’re in an unfair situation. Consequence: the interest in politics is not very high, because why would you feel involved in a system you don’t feel you can change? It’s my third trip here and I’ve heard the same story dozens of times : Cubans feel stuck and unable to move forward; like they’re trapped in a natural paradise. In the meantime, life goes on.