The Getty Center
Date: Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Getty Center, Harold M. Williams Auditorium
Past Event

Sol and Cuba, Old Havana, Looking North from Alberto Roja's 1951 Plymouth, Havana / Harris
Each in their own way, Alex Harris and Ruth Behar are drawn to Cuba for reasons of family, exile, and reunion. Harris traveled to Cuba for the first time in 1998, attracted in part by the work his professor, Walker Evans. Harris discovered an affinity with the life of José Martí, an exile from Cuba who dreamed of returning to the island to be with his son. Harris realized that his own career consisted of an ongoing effort "to find in the lives of others what is worth fighting for and to record . . . a home where [he] can always return," possibly compensating for the fleeting nature of his own family life.

Ruth Behar's relationship to Cuba is more direct. She left the island with her Jewish family following the revolution in 1959. Although she was young when she left, Behar continued to feel a connection to the island, and in 1990 she began returning regularly. Her journeys resulted in her book, An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba, and the documentary film Adio Kerida/Goodbye Dear Love: A Cuban Sephardic Journey.

Together, Harris and Behar discuss how their respective projects give voice to Cubans and express the poetry of life on the island through words and images.

Alex Harris co-founded the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, where he has taught documentary photography and writing since 1975. Harris has photographed extensively in the American South, New Mexico, Alaska, and Cuba. The Getty Museum featured his photographs in the exhibition Where We Live: Photographs of America from the Berman Collection in 2006 and in the current exhibition A Revolutionary Project: Cuba from Walker Evans to Now. Harris has published 14 books as a photographer and editor, including, most recently, The Idea of Cuba.

Ruth Behar is a professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan. In addition to her work on Cuba, Behar has published essays, poetry, and short fiction. Her books include The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart. Behar has received fellowships from the MacArthur and Guggenheim Foundations.

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