Loneliness in White and Black

/ 25 November, 2016

In a close date, after the first decade of the 21st century was surpassed, Daylene Rodríguez appears in the Cuban photographic panorama with a set of images in white and black which deal with the loneliness of men and women of the third or fourth ages, whose life elapse in retirement homes, in a placid, silent way although, who knows?, not exempt of existential conflicts and dramas. This interest of the photographer is expressed in a return to the traditional portrait approached from the empathy with the subject and assisted by a certain compassion to those men and women.

Born in Matanzas, Cuba (1978), her professional career takes place since a long time in Havana. Since 2007 she exhibits individually and in collective exhibitions in a regular way, highlighting her participations in parallel events in the Havana Biennial and contributing to enlarge collections whether private as well as institutional in Cuba and the United States.

Her present and of the highest impact work is the series Aliento de cenizas (Ash Breath), 2015, whose origins take us back years before, when she was obsessed with taking photos of street animals, children and elder adults, in a work that privileged the documentary point of view above others aesthetical or conceptual. Without touching in depth the topic of death, Daylene grazes it with honesty and patience, shaken by that atmosphere of loneliness in which so many men and women live at the end of their lives.

The titles of the photographs denote the simplicity of her purposes. These are the names of every subject: Alonso, Eulogia, Florencia, Jesús, Zaida, who do not pose, but let her take the photo, even when it does not mean a clear, deep, conscience on the photographic fact. Looking above, bellow,  praying with interlaced hands, these beings abandon themselves to the breath of their dramas or distresses, to that feeling of loneliness that overwhelm them as something very much theirs, privative of an existence that is already reaching its final summit on earth.

To achieve more coherence and organization in her work, after constant visits to several retirement homes, Daylene places the printed images in wooden boxes and, as a complement, adds small broken glasses which, at the same time, remain protected by the transparent  plastic material. The glass fragments allude to the rupture of the lives of these individuals. Eyes and hands play a very important role: they act as symbols of the totality of the image. The brilliance of the eyes maintains the faith, while the hands show a latent vitality: both elements feed the secret hope of those beings Daylene has taken care of legitimating and privileging in white and black. This is, logically, “constructed photography”, elaborated after the registration of the images by the camera, which do not go to contextual elements to express their purpose. The force of those faces, of those eyes, of those   hands is enough to express those lives, those fates. (…)

Nelson Herrera Ysla

Nelson Herrera Ysla

Art critic, curator, poet. He is co-founder of the Wifredo Lam Contemporary Art Center and of the Havana Biennial, an event he led from 1999 to 2001, and where he is currently curator. He has lectured in numerous countries and published numerous critical texts in specialized publications of Cuba and abroad. General Curator of the XVI Paiz Biennial of Guatemala, 2008. Essay Jury of the Casa de las Américas Prize, 2005, and international art events in Latin America. National Award for Arts Criticism Guy Pérez Cisneros, 2007, and National Prize for Curators 2013, both in Cuba.

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