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Historic time capsules of Castro’s Cuba

Now that the borders between Cuba and the US are opening up, it is only a matter of time before things in Cuba will change. German photographer Werner Pawlok captured the interiors of a gradually fading era.

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Hidden gems

As if frozen in time, Werner Pawlok’s Cuba has an almost morbid quality. Behind the crumbling facades on the streets of Havana you will find houses with the most magnificent interiors. “Cubans are often embarrassed about their houses, as they have no money to renovate. But my pictures reveal the incredible beauty and character of these buildings.”

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Werner Pawlok

Photographer Werner Pawlok lives in Stuttgart, Germany, and is famous for his celebrity and art photography.

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    The house of Luisa Faxas: a leak in the roof almost caused it to collapse

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    "No stylist is able to do a better job than time"

    Pawlok’s strategy was simple: “Whenever I saw an inspiring place, I would ring the doorbell.” He was amazed by the Cuban hospitality and friendliness. “I was always welcome.” One of the first houses Pawlok photographed also became one of his favourites. The house of Luis Faxas, also known as the Greenhouse, is an enormous mansion built in 1926. “The mansion is over 250 square metres in size, but when I photographed it, the family was living on just 15 square metres in an improvised living room which was also the bedroom and kitchen.”

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      Even just the patina on the walls is a work of art

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        Pawlok was welcome everywhere

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        "For me it is like stepping into a movie. The rooms start telling me stories"

        As soon as Pawlok enters a room, his head begins to fill with stories. “For me it is like stepping into a movie. I see people in evening gowns dancing under the chandeliers. It’s like Woody Allen’s ‘Purple Rose of Cairo’ but then the other way around.” He refrains from interpreting his photos too much. “This series is for people with great imagination. I don’t want to tell the stories of these houses, I want people to imagine.”

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          Colourful floors and walls in the House of Chino I

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            Houses full of hidden treasures

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            “It’s my dream to show my work to the people of Havana”

            This September, Pawlok will publish his work in a 320-page book entitled ‘Cuba - Expired’. In early 2017, he will also host an exhibit in the Julio Larramendi Gallery in Havana: “It’s my dream to show my work to the people of Havana. I am very interested in seeing their reactions.” Would you like to see more of Pawlok’s work? Visit his website.


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