Havana is a city that rarely fails to captivate. But much of the unique beauty and culture of this historic city is rapidly disappearing. As Cuban society finds itself at a crossroads, Havana is more than ever a city on the edge, for although frozen in time as a consequence of Fidel Castro’s revolution, it has certainly not been well preserved. Time, climate, and neglect have eroded a rare architectural legacy, making the need to document this heritage even more pressing than ever before.
Making Home in Havana
is an elegant book of photographs and testimonies, recording, questioning, and evoking the meaning of place — in particular, the meaning of home. The combination of fine photography and the words of residents of former palaces, humble apartments, and other dwellings offer us an irresistible portrait of Havana that might otherwise be lost forever.
Vincenzo Pietropaolo and Cecelia Lawless have made numerous visits to Havana in order to fully understand and convey the essence of what home means to the inhabitants of the dwellings of the El Vedado
and Centro Habana neighborhoods. Together, they—and we—explore how a building becomes a home through its human history as well as its architectural features. With some renovation already underway in colonial Havana, they concentrate on largely unexplored and unrecognized sections that continue to fall into ruin. The intimacy of their connection with the buildings and people offers us a rare combination of documentary realism and high art. Buildings and people speak their histories to us in classic humanistic style. Residents of Havana tell their stories of lifelong efforts to turn decay into beauty, while the photographer’s evocative pictures enable us to feel exactly what they are talking about — a creation of time and space called home.