As I work through these images, I am filled with a range of emotions. The joy and pleasures of travelling to Havana, but also the awareness of the gap that is innate to being a tourist there. Then there are the complexities of my own struggles at that time in navigating a world that did not feel quite right; complexities that impacted how I related to my father as I enclosed myself in a glitching ethanol fog. I look back at this with regret and frustration, as I could not appreciate the value of his care and support, which has only become exaggerated since his death. I can’t change that, so I am least trying to make peace with it. At least in the years since we have managed to repair some of this damage, but it is still time that was cut short.
I also realise as I make these images that Havana is functioning as the backdrop to these personal narratives. I am aware this is problematic and when I took these images I understood that. I believe it inevitable that such occurs with tourism and especially tourism with such distinctive differences in power dynamics as with US travel to Cuba. Breaking down the collages into flickering parts literally makes Havana a background in the code, where form relates to content. But this is also why I obfuscate these images, as there is always an opacity to these differences that I am letting be, inspired by Éduoard Glissant’s Poetics of Relation. There is an impossibility of knowing, but also there are relations that exist beyond my narrow frame of reference.
I also want to note that just before we went to Havana in 2007, I collected about 30 addresses of people in the US. I then proceeded to send them postcards from Cuba, documenting the postcard within the context of the site that I wrote it. I am writing one such card in this montage. When posting the cards, I shook from nervousness of what felt like a forbidden act — a quintessential tourist act when travel to Cuba for tourism was illegal. Both my father and I travelled there legally on education visas, but I could not shake the giddy feeling of defying authority when sending these cards.