Tria Giovan is a New York based photographer and traveller. Her work has been published in Elle, Esquire, Harpers, G.Q and Vogue, among many other publications. Her many photography projects have led her to traverse the globe, and having grown up in the Caribbean, it was a pull to parts familiar that first led her to Cuba.

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Between 1990 and 1996, Giovan explored the island over 12  one month-long trips, emerging with over 25,000 images; an incredible archive and time capsule of 90’s Cuba.

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Her desire to “understand what was behind the chimera of this enigmatic, isolated country.” Led to thoughtful subject exploration that captured the day-to-day subtleties of a country and the haunting permutations of empty rooms.

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She photographed the subtleties and layered complexities of day-to-day Cuba against melancholy backdrops, with a refinement and sophistication that ground us in the recorded moment.

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“The country’s cultural integrity, societal structures, and the ephemera of the Cuban Revolution seemed preserved, as if in amber, while its architectural legacy and infrastructure crumbled. There was an astonishing spirit and resourcefulness to the Cuban people.”

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Giovan captured intimate images by immersing herself in her surroundings by “transcending stereotypes to embrace the vernacular and indigenous, creating a considered portrait of a place and people born of complete engagement and an informed perspective.”

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“I photograph as a documentarian, wishing to preserve and to collect. I am drawn to subjects with a resonance that connects me to history, anchors me firmly in the present, and offers engagement in the external world and insight into my inner realm.”

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“When compelled to photograph, I follow my impulses, allowing time and resolve to divulge the complexities of my subject matter. I aspire to intimacy, seeking to distill the essence of my subject, while defining and deciphering my personal iconography.”

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After ceasing her multiple trips to Cuba in 1996, 100 of her images where brought together in ‘The Elusive Island’ published by Harry N. Abrams.

Tria Giovan Photography

20 years after the book, and “working with clarity only time can impart”, Giovan is working to reveal images which have never been shown.

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She has spent the last two years re-editing the images, working to preserve the original 6 x 9 color negatives.

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Many images, previously disregarded or missed initially now stand out as poignant, and as a record of elements that no longer exist and of a Cuba poised on the brink of change.

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The final archive of images, much larger than the few examples here “capture Cuba at a pivotal point in its storied and fascinating history, while bearing witness to an inimitable, resilient and complex country and people.”

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