an investigative photo documentary

Exclusive 23-page photo essay from our investigative journalist team in collaboration with award-winning photojournalist Ryan Stone. Location: Miami, United States Copyright Wondereur 2017.

MEET with artist Glexis Novoa curated by award-winning curator Catherine Sicot.

Novoa title page
1
I WANTED TO BUILD A 12-FOOT BUDDHA SCULPTURE IN A PARK IN THE OUTSKIRTS OF HAVANA.
2
So the park could become a place for meditation.
3
It’s not just any park: it used to have a ceiba tree, which is a sacred tree in Cuba. People give offerings and perform ceremonies by it. But then, three years ago, someone cut the tree down and burned it.
4
IT’S ALWAYS A BIG SHOCK WHEN A CEIBA TREE IS KILLED.
5
In Afro-Cuban religions like the Santería, ceiba trees are like temples. They represent so much spirituality.
6
I SAW THIS BUDDHA PROJECT AS A WAY TO COMMUNICATE ABOUT THE CUBAN SPIRITUALITY.
7
8
I’VE BEEN LIVING IN MIAMI SINCE 1995.
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I was privileged to be able to come here with my family while so many people left in a raft, risking their lives. As an artist, I had a special visa and traveled a lot - to the USSR, Germany, Mexico, Colombia, U.S., Canada...
10
At some point, I just decided to stay here… I always liked the American culture ever since I was little.
11
I GREW UP LISTENING TO MY GRANDFATHER’S STORIES ABOUT AMERICA.
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My grandfather had lived in Boston for two years. He had kept a little bit of this American way of life and he passed down liberal and business ideas to me. I grew up listening to American music and looking at American painters.
13
14
I developed as an artist in the ’80s, which was a very unique period in the Cuban Revolution. As artists, we thought we had the mission to bring all of these revolutionary ideas radically upfront and fight for them.
15
WE REALLY THOUGHT THAT ARTISTS WERE AUTHENTIC REVOLUTIONARIES.
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We received a lot of support from the government, but at the same time, they just didn’t know how to deal with us. That’s how the censorship started. In 1990, an artist did a performance during an opening, and they put him in jail for six months.
17
OUR ROMANTIC IDEA OF THE REVOLUTION WAS NOT THE REALITY.
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STILL TODAY, EVERYBODY IN CUBA THINKS OF THEMSELVES AS A COMMUNITY FIRST.
20
Everything is related to ideology, to politics. We don’t look much inside ourselves, inside our own mythology like we did before.
21
I started meditating when I was little, thanks to my mother. With meditation you become more conscious of yourself as an individual, not just as a group or as a part of society.
22
I’M MORE AND MORE INTERESTED IN THIS PROCESS OF VIEWING YOURSELF AS AN INDIVIDUAL.