Farewell Papa Fidel

“I was in Cuba working at the Escuela Internacional de Cine y Television when Fidel Castro died on the 25th November 2016″, explains Erik Knudsen. “I had been coming to Cuba every year for 18 years, initially on the invitation of film producer, Mamoun Hassan, who said to me back in 1998 that I should visit Cuba before Castro died, as it would all change once this happened. He was already an old man then. During that time, I learned a lot about Cuba and had the privilege of being able to photograph what increasingly for me became a sad expression of stasis. This prompted a couple of short films, Vainilla Chip, and, In Waiting, plus a photographic essay, Cuba in Waiting. It was therefore fortuitous for me to be in Cuba when Castro died. I was able to share in the mourning of what for most of my Cuban friends was Cuba’s most influential and charismatic leader, even if the vast majority of them were secretly relieved. I had an opportunity to attend the public memorial service held in Plaza de la Revolucion in Havana on the 29th November 2016. For me the experience was a personal closure of a journey in which I witnessed a Cuba in waiting – waiting for change, for progress, for freedom. This short photographic essay is an attempt at complimenting my previous photographic essay, Cuba In Waiting, by capturing my feelings about this historical event of Fidel Castro’s passing. I have aimed to articulate a sense of personal closure to clear the way for the beginnings of a new and different relationship with Cuba. This is particularly poignant now that Fidel’s brother, Raul, has stepped down as of April 2018 from running the country. For the first time in nearly 60 years, a Castro will not be head of the Cuban state. This is indeed a momentous moment for the country and I believe that the change that Mamoun Hassan talked about back in 1998 is about to happen.”