Thursday, April 12, 2007

His one-time friend Fidel

You probably have never heard the name Oliviero Toscani but chances are you’d be familiar with some of his work.

Mr Toscani is an Italian photographer best known for his often controversial commercial shots for the Benetton fashion chain.

Now, he has a new exhibition of his work, which is currently touring various European cities.

But this is no Benetton campaign.

Instead, they are huge photographs in black and white of most of the 75 dissidents, writers and independent journalists imprisoned back in 2003 by the Castro regime for periods of up to 25 years each on trumped-up charges of being US “mercenaries”.

The name of the exhibition, which opened in Brussels this week, is "No thinking: the Face of Repression in Cuba".

What makes all this interesting is the fact that the Milanese-born photographer used to be a big fan of Fidel Castro – during one of his early visits to the island, he met the older Castro and gave him a mountain bike as a personal gift. Stupid? You bet.

In many ways, Mr Toscani remains something of a fan, describing the ailing 80-year-old dictator in this interview in the French magazine Cafe Babel as a “charismatic” leader who has outstayed his welcome. "It's over," he says.

And yes, the photographer who has made so much money out of an European multinational that already has a shop in Havana warns disapprovingly that the demise of Castroism will result in American multinationals turning Havana into a mini-Florida. Hypocritical in the extreme ...

Still, I am willing to forgive Mr Toscani for now. At least he’s seen the light. Or some of it.


Blogger Manuel A.Tellechea said...

"Charismatic," he says. It must be wonderful to be able to use words with no inkling of what they mean. The time saved by not thinking can then be applied to more profitable endeavors, such as providing poseurs with the gear that they require to play the part.

"Charismatic," of course, means to possess an extraordinary power given to a Christian by the Holy Spirit for the good of the Church. Castro, in fact, is an anti-charismatic, since he serves another master and his actions profit only himself.

2:46 pm  

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