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Past exhibitions

Franci Virant: Havana-Paris (2004-2005)

By 6. 6. 2005 May 14th, 2019 No Comments

Franci Virant
Havana-Paris (2004-2005)

9.06.2005 – 16.07.2005
19h

Paris: 2,15 billion residents, Havana: 2,2 billion residents. Between them, 7712 kilometres of flight distance, differences and similarities. In Paris the Rive Gauche, in Havana the Spanish colonial architecture with faded facades. Small French cars, disoriented in the midst of Parisian roundabouts, and American aerodynamically shaped cars from the seventies and sixties, parked luxuriously in front of Havana’s canteens and bars, while their owners entertain themselves by playing dominoes.

Franci Virant
Havana-Paris (2004-2005)

Paris: 2,15 billion residents, Havana: 2,2 billion residents. Between them, 7712 kilometres of flight distance, differences and similarities. In Paris the Rive Gauche, in Havana the Spanish colonial architecture with faded facades. Small French cars, disoriented in the midst of Parisian roundabouts, and American aerodynamically shaped cars from the seventies and sixties, parked luxuriously in front of Havana’s canteens and bars, while their owners entertain themselves by playing dominoes. The Paris caffés, where coffee is cheapest if you sit at the bar and every customer is inadvertently a witness to the meeting or quarrel of lovers sitting at the next table, the streets of Havana, where every word of a local man is an invitation, and every look of a local woman is seduction. Two social systems that dictate the pace of walking down the street: European capitalism, which causes Parisians to practically run into the labyrinths of the metro, their worried faces no longer noticing the Secession-style entrances, and the Cuban form of socialism, which nowadays brings smiles to the faces of Havana residents while they’re putting out their cigars on the dug-up roads. Cuba has already caught its breath since the economic recession of the nineties, while France is becoming more and more euro-skeptical.

Somewhere in between is the insight of a different tourist – with an excellent digital camera in hand and long-lasting experience in photography. Franci Virant observes the two cities at random, without the today all too sought-after ‘’artistic concept’’. Photographs of people on the streets and in bars, of architectural details and of almost panoramic views of the city were not produced with the intention to be exhibited. They are a spontaneous reaction of a stranger in an enormous city, who can notice the happiness of a poor inhabitant of Havana, and the covert fear of someone living in Paris. Even though the one from Havana is a descendant of the Spanish, European colonialist and the one from Paris, though of south American or African descent, is temporarily working in Europe.

Franci Virant doesn’t take sides, but is also not objective. With his photography, he is telling the story of a simple life in Cuba, where despite the seemingly low standard of living, people coexist, even though they might have met for the first time and perhaps the last, and the complicated life in Paris, where the high standard enables luxuries, but also creates elite circles of rare chosen ones.

Virant’s story is happening on the streets. And because his photographs of Havana are perhaps a shade more lyrical and pleasant, it’s where the author found what we are all looking for, on all continents of the world. Lost time and sweet idleness.

Franci Virant

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