Photo: Claudio Fuentes Madan
Text by: La Salamandra Blanca
A few days ago Cubaencuentro published an interview with Claudio Fuentes, one of a group of post-Revolution young people. This article is a response to comments on that page and also to the comments of some friends. Some of them, the most decadent and critical opinions, say that he is poisonous, that the language is terribly rude, the terminology is homophobic, that if we expect anything good from this type of people we as a country are lost… in the end. Perhaps he has defects, as we all do, but we find in him more virtues and he awakens more affection than many who think they are better and who are bothered by his manner. He is the most sincere guy I’ve met in my life, not to say he’s not a little sly when he wants to be, but this is only in the interest of his lovely art work. With regards to the homophobic terminology, it’s a shame that it sounds that way, real Cubans know that his references are not precisely homophobic. Because this boy, in many ways, is one of the most open minded in the city, and in variety of ways, not just sexually. His photos speak to this.
He takes very good photos, though he has been able to show them in official places only a few times, but maybe it doesn’t matter, nor does it interest him, he will find where his art has value. Each time will be better, because he always seeks to learn, to understand what makes the difference. It’s a shame that everyone can’t know him personally because he is, as he himself would describe it, a charmer. Yes, I like his poison, because it’s a poisoned charm, but it’s poison only in the form of a vice that gives you the sense of being agreeably stoned. He’s like a vampire who converts others, and once you’ve passed the moment of terror and have tried it, you want more. Even just to be in his company, you always come out having learned something, and almost always laughing. Because to provoke laughter takes great talent; he can do almost anything with a joke. He manages jokes across a wide spectrum because of his intellect, which will always be less than he aspires to, because he is insatiable and never stops reading and looking for information about what interests him.
In reality, he’s a guy who’s very satisfied with life in general, although he has introspective days that hint at a possible sadness. Others could not live as he does, with very few or almost no material possessions. He could become a bitter person, or a miser, but without a doubt he never is, he’s easily generous with his friends and if he has money he shares it with no problem and always wants to help those who have none. So I don’t believe we need to let loose with the sanctimony and irritation when we read the words in the strong language he uses when he speaks with passion about something that might seem jaded. These really are attitudes typical of him, always the irreverence and the provocation, and if it’s about politics… please!
The Spanish girl, who wants to see his shirtless photos, and trouserless photos, (don’t fixate too much on the legs but that’s not important) and take him to Spain, now you can have a look and you’ll see.
He’s an exceptional boy and a it’s a real pleasure to know him; to be counted among his friend can be, though it might sound terribly corny, one of the most important and beautiful things that could happen in your life. Thank you for letting me get to know you is something I’ve always wanted to tell him, and I still haven’t said it.
This is an excerpt to a version of the song, Epitaph for Vladimir Visotski by Karsmarski Jacek (Polish dissident songwriter), which includes Ciro Diaz in his latest album, The Blue Slug, that I listened to compulsively for at least two months, especially on the street with my mp3 inherited from a friend who now has an I-pod. (Download the lyrics here) (Download the recording and album cover here) The song (in summary, which runs about ten minutes) is about a desperate artist going through the circles of hell in search of an answer or death, and at the end of his journey there is only loneliness and the weight of the supreme power above himself. So I found myself at times catching the bus across Havana at 12 noon in August under the perennial sunshine and with the distressing feeling of not going anywhere, or arriving too late, or going for pleasure ... I feel that I have already arrived at the eighth enclosure (this is the finale of the song) where there is nothing, and I feel useless and empty, and I look at people without faith who walk along the street and who have so much fear that they no longer know they're afraid, and who have seen so many Roundtables and so many news broadcasts that they no longer know what belongs to reality or just to the TV screen. They cannot discern that they no longer believe, but cannot disbelieve either, and just move along past me not going anywhere.