I came across Sven Dreesbach’s work a while back and couldn’t look away. I spent almost an hour cruising through his photos and when I was directed towards his La Habana series from a recent trip to Cuba, I was mesmerized. I have always wanted to visit this frozen-in-time island, but after studying Sven’s photos it was solidified, I must go.
I had the opportunity to ask Sven about his photos and what the trip meant to him. What he told me felt like it fit the photos perfectly. You can almost hear his excitement dripping from his words as he talks about his travels and Habana.
Let me tell you a little bit about my trip to Habana de Cuba. So we stayed there for 10 days to explore the “myths” around Cuban culture and people. My fiancee and a befriended couple of ours joined me. As you arrive at the airport in Havana you can observe how the clock slowly starts turning backwards. After taking a 30 Minute cab ride into the Vieja (old town) district, you arrive right at the core of a bizarre world that feels like it hasn’t changed in 60 years. Streets and buildings once as prestigious and beautiful as you can only imagine, seem to have fallen into a state of eternal sleep a long time ago. Cuba’s iconic vintage Cadillacs, Plymouths and Buicks which are populating the Cuban avenidas and calles are the most visible remains of an era long gone. Their bodies have all been maintained meticulously with all but many available means. It’s mainly Russian engines which are hiding under those hoods now. We literally did not find a single sign of capitalism on any of the buildings. The only corporation controlling Cuba is its socialist government. At night, energy was saved by switching off the wide majority of street lights, turning Habana’s streets into near darkness.
On its surface, it was a trip back in time and into an environment similar to what I experienced when I traveled into former East-Germany for the first time, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Despite all the limitations, we ran into a culture as vibrant, colorful and full of joy as you could ever imagine. Even visiting the less touristy and more working class neighborhoods of Alamar didn’t change this notion. There was something remarkable about the many Cubans I met or simply observed. It appeared to me like these fine people did not only have a patience , but also a sense of community I am missing elsewhere so often.
Habana de Cuba compares to an old diva, who was so beautiful during her glory days but who now shines through her strong inner beauty with all her patience and experience.
We are honored to feature your series Sven, and a glimpse at your travels. See more here.