Ling, Elaine

Elaine Ling, Ajax, Canada


In Cuba, an island caught between the grandeur of old world glory and the decay of the immediate epoch, I found an urban landscape that reflects a struggle between daily life and the slow forces of Nature.Havana echoes the architecture of a decadent and multicultural past. In the vestigial remains of a one street Chintown, are found 13 casinos or clubs each a center for the few old members of that clan to share their morning teatime. Trinidad echoes the interior grandeur of the colonial homes, each displaying a family¹s eclectic possessions. Santiago de Cuba echoes the deeply entrenched religions of Santaria, Congo, Spiritus and Catholicism. Household shrines often honor all aspects of these beliefs.

I came to work on this portfolio through shouted invitations to visit people¹s homes as I wander down the streets carrying my 4x5 camera on a tripod. Each home lead to the neighboring home and each one-room casa holds stored-away treasures of gold trimmed porcelain, doll collections, photos of Che and Fidel when they were young men and memorabilia of a widow of his wife.

However, tangible new energy of reconstruction and restoration stages this country's rebirth. The abandoned pleasure gardens and the intimate interiors of homes are in the flux of metamorphoses.

Abandoned, Namib Desert

This images is from a diamond mining ghost town in the Namib desert. This natural installation began 40 years ago when the German miners and their families abandoned this small cluster of homes struggling to remain above the sand. Once left to the unhindered advances of the enormous linear sand dunes rolling back from the sea, the rooms began filling up with sand and the very familiar objects of daily living took on a surrreal affect. Here in the unrelenting sunlight and the howling silence I found a place that proclaims Nature as the final winner. Man's absence has been acknowledged by the pulse of the moving dunes.