Día de las Madres, sin flores

día de las madres
día de las madres

Foto tomada el día de las madres, circa 1980.

Esta foto, tomada, creo, un día de las madres más o menos cercano a 1980, es muy reveladora. En ella estamos mi hermana y yo sonrientes, en una mano un jarrón y en la otra una postal florida, de las que circulaban en Cuba por el día de las madres. Tengo muchas fotos en posiciones y con atuendos diferentes, pues durante toda mi infancia mi abuelo nos usó, a mi hermana y a mi, de modelos en las muchas fotos que tomó, reveló e imprimió como entretenimiento. Pero los elementos que componen esta fotografía son particularmente raros: dos búcaros de vidrio y dos postales de felicitación. Pienso que no debe haber habido flores ese día y, para “resolver”, mi abuelo organizó la composición de la fotografía con un sucedáneo: una representación de las flores.

Los vestidos que llevamos mi hermana y yo son, también, un manera de resolver la escasez. Los hizo mi mamá con lienzo, adornado con cintas bordadas que, por el diseño, parecen importadas de la URSS. A la izquierda, yo llevo “popis” o tenis deportivos, casi seguro de fabricación cubana. Mi hermana calza zapatos ortopédicos, estilo “Mary Jane”, hechos en Cuba. Así celebramos el día de las madres alrededor de 1980 mi hermana y yo.

álbum de la revolución cubana

Carátula del Álbum de la Revolución Cubana
Carátula del Álbum de la Revolución Cubana

Carátula del Álbum de la Revolución Cubana. Imagen tomada del blog vernácula Typography.

En Cuba Counterpoints: Fate, the State, and the Everyday, by Alan West-Durán:

. . . One item that stands out from the beginning of the revolution is “El álbum de la Revolución Cubana,” published by La Revista Cinegráfico (under René Jiménez in 1960, it was a reprint of a 1959 first edition), but underwritten by the company Felices, maker of candy and preserves. They had traditionally made their candies offering postalitas (baseball cards), but now they were taking the postalita concept and applying it to an album-length narrative of the Cuban revolution that begins with Batista’s coup on March 10, 1952 and ends with the triumphant arrival of Fidel to Havana on January 8, 1959 (and, interestingly enough, with the execution of prominent batistianos involved in war crimes in the last three closing images). Through 268 card-images, a colorful, if somewhat ideology-laden story unfolds, even if the facts are pretty accurate. There is one ad for Guava Marmalade, on the back cover, from Felices with a little girl in blonde pigtails saying “Thank you, mom, for today’s dessert!”

Pure fifties imagery of what is supposed to be the typical middle class Cuban family, which if not in Spanish could be an ad from any U.S. magazine of the time. The front cover has an explosion of color to match the one depicted of a battle. On top are the Cuban and the July 26th flags, below which, in bold yellow lettering are the words Revolución Cubana in full caps. Next to that lettering stands Fidel himself holding a rifle. He looms large over the landscape and to his right is both the Sierra Maestra (the mountain range that harbored the incipient guerrilla movement), and above the mountains is a kind of spirit-cloud with the face of José Martí, Cuba’s “imaginary monarch” (Rafael Rojas’s words), the political and moral inspiration of the Cuban revolutionary movement. At ground level are scenes of battle (with soldiers, planes, tanks and an explosion with billowing red smoke), as well as a depiction of the Granma, the boat used by the July 26th rebels to go from Mexico to Cuba (now prominently displayed in the Museum of the Revolution). To say the cover is over the top would be an understatement, but it does have an appeal for those who enjoy an action comic aesthetic with clear heroes and villains. The difference between the covers is striking: revolutionary propaganda (Fidel, Martí, July 26th Movement) on the front; capitalist propaganda (Guava marmalade) on the back. Blood and heroism on the cover, sweetness and pleasure on the back: good old Cuban dialectics at work.
Surprisingly, for an object for young collectors, the album depicts many scenes of violence, be it acts of repression of the Batista government to battle scenes with bodies strewn about, to attempts on the life of Batista, to the assassination of underground leader Frank País, or the blowing up of trains in Santa Clara. Indeed, it is a graphic and bloody depiction of an insurrectionary war and those who died in the revolutionary struggle are shown as heroes and spoken about in the language of Christian martyrdom.

Leer todo el texto en Cuba Counterpoints.

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Ver el álbum de la revolución cubana en pdf, a partir de las imágenes de Vernacular Typography.

postales coloniales


Postal. 1902. Colección Cuba Material.

‘A Cuban Courtship’: Postcards and Colonial Nostalgia in the Early Twentieth Century, por Kris Juncker.

Cuba’s independence from Spain in 1899 ignited new movements in the depiction of Cuban culture through postcard production. Although the Cuban government and press appeared to advocate independence, this paper investigates conflicting movements that arose within popular sentiment. To be clear, in spite of rhetoric encouraging national sovereignty, a tide of Colonial nostalgia emerged among many tourism-based and creative industries. In most instances, postcard images were photographed by Cubans but mechanically printed in the United States and sold in Cuban tourist venues to both national and international audiences. These postcards regularly sought to characterise the nation and its people by transforming once-semi-anthropological materials that presented race, costume and social class into leisure-based paraphernalia. Arguably, this creative adaptation of such cultural studies involved rather extreme creative license and embellishment. In particular, postcards from the decades following Cuban independence illustrate extensive colouring of images as well as photomontage practices. This paper examines some of the more pernicious trends in the postcard representation of Cuba as these images offered inexpensive, mass-produced stereotypes of Cuban people to audiences both within Cuba and abroad. In striking contrast to the typologies printed about Cuba, many of these same postcard publishers otherwise printed images illustrating modern industrial development in European and American cities. However, in collusion, photographers and publishers continued to print images celebrating Cuba’s Colonial past and enforced stereotypes that persist even today.

Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre, postal

Tarjeta postal del Santuario de la Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre
Tarjeta postal del Santuario de la Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre

Tarjeta postal del Santuario de la Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, bendecida por el Arzobispo de Santiago de Cuba. Colección Cuba Material.

El Santuario de la Virgen de la Caridad, en el poblado del Cobre, se construyó bajo el arzobispado de Fray Valentín Zubizarreta y Unamunzaga, nombrado Arzobispo de Santiago de Cuba en 1925. Este arzobispo también presidió, en 1936, la coronación canónica de la Virgen de la Caridad, patrona de Cuba.