As travel to Cuba from the U.S. becomes easier, Havana will no doubt continue to attract photographers, drawn to its crumbling pastel walls and streets dotted with vintage cars. Bernhard Hartmann’s new book HAVANA, published next month by teNeues and YellowKorner, offers a more intimate perspective of the neighborhoods of Habana Vieja, (which was declared a World Heritage Site in 1982), and El Vedado, presenting an informative and human view of the city by focusing on what happens inside its walls.
There are cars with tail fins and Baroque, Neoclassical and Art Deco palaces in various states of decay, but in Hartmann’s pictures, the Old Town, with the second highest population density in the city, is also a living place. There are barbers and fruit vendors who have set up shop in disintegrating rooms, while other interiors are pictured getting a fresh coat of paint. Old men sit in quiet kitchens and partitioned bedrooms, boxers practice in gyms, and many spaces, from the restored Gran Teatro de La Habana to elegant apartments in various states of disrepair and preservation, stand empty, as if waiting. As the book’s introduction states, “the apartments of the city’s inhabitants have infinitely more to tell about life in Cuba than picturesque facades ever could.”