14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 19 October 2019 — A gesture and 126 portraits make up the #Libre photo exhibition by artist May Reguera, in defense of the freedom of expression. The Cuban actress and photographer captured in her studio the moment when the people she summoned took off a sweater as an act of liberation. An exhibition in which not only bodies, but also emotions are perceived.
On Friday afternoon the Gorria Gallery-Workshop was inaugurated in Havana’s San Isidro neighborhood, attended by hundreds of people.
“#Libre began with a self-portrait that was censored on social networks two years ago. For me it was very conflicting to think that female nipples were censored because they were not accepted within the community laws of that social network because they were offensive. It seemed like something totally illogical considering a lot of weird content that is seen all the time on the networks,” the artist told 14ymedio at the busy exhibition.
She says that then she wanted to bring women together to express the idea that “our nipples are not offensive. They are ours, it is our history, they are our experiences, we give life with these nipples,” and that is where the idea of this exhibition came from.
She explains that the whole project was then transformed into something different. Reguera says that “I also didn’t him to have a discourse only about feminism” because, for the artist, the idea is to talk about equality. “Saying that we all have the same rights to say what we want to say, to do what we want to do, I know it is difficult but it is the universe in which I believe,” she added.
She began to add men as well but it did not seem to complete the idea of what she was looking to express. “I didn’t want something of genders, with women and men, and I thought about including people with disabilities and abilities in the exhibition, with the greatest variety of people possible making the same symbolic gesture of I can, I can also do this.”
The artist, with great experience in photography and making portraits of models, took only two photos of each person although for some she had to do a little more so that they would not be “affected” by the emotions that overcame them.
“It was not a problem, I think it is easy to remember a moment that has marked us and made us feel inferior and small, it is not difficult to remember that. It was just asking them to think about that time. For me it was impressive and people immediately remembered.”
She confesses that the most difficult part of the entire work, which lasted for months, was trying not to be affected with all those experiences picked up by her lens.
“When you look through the camera you are without distraction looking through a black tunnel and simply one person feeling something super strong, it was difficult. I had days in which I finished the sessions and I was very sad. For me #Libre was also a process of growing, this exercise changed me.”
The impact of the work does not end with the printing of the portraits and their mounting in the gallery. Many of those who participated have written to the artist. “I have beautiful testimonies and I want to do things with that. They are very emotional but also very motivating words. Although the exercise was to remember a not very pleasant moment, the feeling with stayed with them was liberation. I feel very happy that it is like that,” she said.
Moving between the portraits that hang together from the ceiling of the gallery, one could often spy the faces of some of the models who were posing in front of their naked torso to take the souvenir home.
The exhibition will remain for a month in the gallery and May Reguera has the idea of including conferences on human rights in social networks.
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