In Cuba, a country where the sea is omnipresent, there has been a constant urge to represent this characteristic in art. Fantastic as well as historical and naturalistic visions have led to an abundance of images that are largely inspired by the relationship between the sea, the city, and its inhabitants. Capital Cuba uses certain locations within the area of the Havana bay as a platform to explore said relationship with the innovative spirit of experimental cinema.
Johann Lurf plays with the qualities of cinema parting from a structural discourse that equally stimulates the creation process and the perception of the resulting images. Seemingly with the freedom of not having a predefined plan, Lurf slips into a travel routine. From inside the small ferry that connects Old Havana with the town of Casa Blanca, the camera abandons traditional panoramic representations but instead seeks to present us with glimpses of a very complex whole. The different shots of the industrial activities around the edges of the bay confront us with a reality that is both contradictory and in the process of transformation: a scenario which is played out between currently developing operations, a gradual degradation, the neglect of the port´s infrastructure, plans for the future recovery of the maritime area.
Through the movement of the camera and the consistent editing this material gains a distinctive momentum, a rhythm and an "internal melody" defined by the cuts. The repetitions with their subtle variations require the audience to watch very closely and they highlight the structure of the work. Capital Cuba offers a new perception of space which we do not just see but also feel. The spacial experience is supplemented by a physical one, in a gesture which defines the projection as an "event" and the dark room as its home. Thus this work does not restrict itself to the screen but reaches out into our minds as a continuous act of reading and interpretation. It unsettles and interrogates us the same way it does with any attempt to interpret it. (Yalicel Gabeira)
Translation from Spanish to English: Teresa Kuhn