We Are All Poets
Cuba 2007

Solo Exhibition by Colette Gaiter
Woman Made Gallery, Chicago

Juror for The Commercial Woman

January 18 - February 21, 2008

Woman Made Gallery
685 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622-8021
Phone: (312) 738-0400

Image: We Are All Poets,
Colette Gaiter © 2008

I made this series of photomontages after a trip to Cuba in June of 2007 through Global Exchange, which organizes legal educational delegations from the U.S. I am not a photographer. I use photography as documentation.

For many years I have collected images of what I call “Unofficial Communication”— messages that are put in the public landscape without permission and outside of commercial transactions. Since Cuba is a Communist country with no billboards or overt advertising, my definition needs amendment. I would call the texts I captured “Public Communication”. I imagine that except for small discreet scribblings of names and politically benign graffiti, in Cuba public writing is approved by the police and government.

Parallel to the way that public advertising reinforces our American values, the revolutionary slogans that proliferate in Cuba remind everyone of what should be important.

In addition to public messages, I photographed objects, people, images, and events that made an impression on my African American female world view.

By juxtaposing images, including vintage ones I found after my trip, I illustrated some of my thought process in making sense of what I saw. I spent time in the months after my return reading, having many conversations, and trying to understand what I could learn from visiting a country that is virtually the ideological polar opposite of my own.

The final prints show some of what I found beautiful, ordinary, surprising, and disturbing during my carefully guided ten days on the tropical island that is officially forbidden to American tourists.