Cuban Evolution: Photographs by Joakim Eskildsen

9089.4_3632.4 001 -- 9089 Group of youngsters, ages 13-16, in Central Havana, sits on a corner to discuss the latest news of Spanish La Liga, especially who is better between Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi. Their hairdos follow their idol’s, whether a soccer star or a reggeaton singer
Joakim Eskildsen for TIME
A group of youngsters in Central Havana sit on a street corner to discuss the latest news of the Spanish La Liga football league. Their hair is styled like their idols'—soccer stars and Reggaeton singers.

“For centuries, Cuba’s greatest resource has been its people,” writes Pico Iyer in an extended essay on the Caribbean nation in this week’s magazine. In the twilight of the Castro era, Cubans are finding that change brings both hope and anxiety.

To pair with Iyer’s tome, TIME called upon Danish photographer Joakim Eskildsen. Eskildsen, who previously photographed a large portfolio for TIME on the state of poverty in America, traveled to Cuba for ten days, photographing urban housing projects in Havana and rural settlements across the countryside. With the help of local journalist Abel Gonzalez Alayon, Eskildsen photographed tobacco plantations, roadside fruit vendors, migrant workers and beachfront resorts — capturing all in the vibrant saturation of medium-format color film.

“I immediately fell in awe with the complexity of this country,” says Eskildsen. “The more you learn about the situation and how people are living, the more difficult it becomes to understand. It was like learning to view the world form a Cuban angle that kept surprising and inspiring me.”

To read Pico Iyer’s extended essay on Cuba, subscribe here. Already a subscriber? Click here.


Joakim Eskildsen is a Danish photographer based in Berlin. LightBox previously featured Eskildsen’s Home Works and Below the Line: Portraits of American Poverty.

Abel Gonzalez Alayon is a journalist based in Cuba. Follow him on Twitter @abelcuba.


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