Ricardo Elías

Artist Statement

In my most recent photographic series, whether the ones dedicated to Havana or those dedicated to sugar, the story is always my primary motivation. My works create reflections on the mechanisms that code our view of and predispose a specific reading for a determined historical event. I also have an interest in the role that texts and images play, so that they refer back to historical events, which help me to perceive and construct their history.


It is difficult to understand the historical course that Cuba has taken in the past two decades without considering the weight of industrialized sugar mills in the country’s economic life. Sugar made Cuba seem rich and stable in some moments of its history, and at others, it showed its vulnerability.


Sugar has left its imprint on the island’s landscape with its specter of rotting structures. Dried Gold (Oro seco) is a series in which I document the current situation, one that previously carried Cuba’s economy on its shoulders. They are the images of an economic memory that today are associated with an underdeveloped country; they show the non-life of a former coliseum that has turned, mainly, to ruins.


The Oro seco series is named for the sounds of a drum dedicated to the deities of the Yoruba cemetery in Afro-Cuban Santeria ceremonies. The phrase “dried gold” pays homage to the central industry and its men, the protagonists of an era of glory who today are the forgotten witnesses to that past, which has faded and lost its value.

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