In her second Cuba monograph, Piercing the Darkness, North American photographer, Susan S. Bank, presents an unvarnished view of the sprawling, maddening tropical metropolis of Havana and its inhabitants. Over a period of 11 years she combed this illusive port city, living in homes of habaneros in order to experience the vicissitudes of their daily lives.
Banks’ 77 black and white images, edited and sequenced by the photographer, by-pass worn out clichés, representing portraits of the human landscape with bittersweet shades of hope and despair.
With her Leica M6, she fleshes out multi-layered moments, presented as a street map of a culture in limbo. Havana, an island within an island, with one eye on the Florida Straits, the raw reality of daily life of habaneros slips seamlessly into the surreal. Consistently inconsistent, tomorrow is a date with uncertainty.
In his essay, Waiting for the Invisible, John T. Hill, founder of Yale University MFA program in photography, colleague of Walker Evans, has produced several Evans’ titles including Walker Evans Havana 1933, writes: "Piercing the Darkness is a ‘gem of Haiku verses, full of profound and magical ambiguities focusing on what is common to defining our humanity."