10 Sep 2013 04:00
“It’s falling down.” This was the answer I invariably received when I asked the residents of Old and Central Havana about their homes.
These photographs originated from my desire to see what it looks like to living inside some of the crumbling grandeur of Havana’s buildings. I knocked on doors and begged for permission to photograph the residents and the interiors of their homes. I photographed inside almost a hundred different homes. Most of the homes I visited are in Old Havana. Old Havana was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982. Since this date many key buildings have been restored and the work continues but the emphasis is always on preserving buildings rather than improving or saving making the lives of the general population easier. While certain buildings are restored to a higher standard, the vast majority of the homes remain in a dangerous condition.
Age, decay, neglect, over-crowding and amateur repairs combined with natural factors threaten the stability of Havana’s Baroque, Neoclassical and Art Deco buildings. There are two or three partial or total building collapses in Old and Central Havana every week. Residents have no choice but to continue to live in buildings that have partially collapsed.
Despite the condition of the buildings, most of the homes I visited were filled with personal, social, cultural and religious clues about their occupants. Most were also filled with vibrant colours, mementos, belongings, beloved pets and human warmth and spirit.