This Day’s Notable Aesthetic
The work of photographer Michael Eastman rarely shows human subjects. Absent from the photos themselves, the person in Eastman’s work becomes the viewer whose imagination takes them through the empty door, up a spiral stair, or into a room where the story of a life can hang from a clothesline beneath a baroque chandelier.
His images from his Cuba series present a past, now frayed at the edges, but unlike America, not cast away or abandoned, but captured in the here and now, frozen in time. From the photographer’s perspective, the present now co-exists in the degraded splendor of an aristocratic, colonial past. Castro’s Havana has neither the interest or the resources to eradicate what the revolution rejected. Were it for us such places would be restored, gentrified perhaps. But then the very people whose lives hang from the clothesline beneath the baroque chandelier of Isabella’s Two Chairs would once again be invited to enter such spaces only by invitation.
John Keats once wrote “beauty is truth, truth beauty. That is all ye know on Earth and all ye need to know.” Which is why Eastman’s image of a fadingly corroded beauty infused with a narrative that speaks of romantic decay and genteel decline is This Day’s Notable Aesthetic. Beg to differ?
Michael Eastman: Isabella’s Two Chairs, 2000