Photographs highlight parallels between today's Cuba and soviet Bulgaria

Posted: 01-Mar-16 11:21

A photographer is using old and modern pictures to tell and compare the story of two countries on opposite sides of the world. By bringing together old family photographs from Bulgaria with those of modern-day Cuba, she presents and draws attention to the similarities between the histories of the two countries, to show generations to come.

Photographs highlight parallels between today's Cuba and soviet Bulgaria

By juxtaposing photography of the citizens of two countries across multiple generations, a Bulgarian-born writer for National Geographic recently used her own old family photographs to compare a former Soviet Nation to modern day Cuba.

Published in National Geographic’s online magazine under the section “Proof: Picture Stories” by author Yana Paskova in early February, this peculiar collection of photographs compares the plight of her own family in Bulgaria to that of citizens of Cuba today.

Introducing per peculiar photographs of old Bulgaria and present-day Cuba, Paskova talks about how she tried to imagine what life would have been like for her own grandfather who was an outspoken advocate for democracy. She compares an old image of her grandfather giving a speech to a recent photograph of a Cuban woman who marched in support of political freedoms in Cuba in 2015, juxtaposing the two into a single photograph.

In the article, the author continued to compare photographs of her own family members to photographs of Cuban citizens, showing children there wearing their school uniforms and exclaiming “voto” (He or she voted!) to those casting a ballot for the unicameral parliament.

Throughout her article, Paskova forewarned that Cuba’s future could someday echo that of Bulgaria, as the population ages and memories of the past are forgotten. The author references her own grandmother and her dwindling memory of what the past meant for Bulgaria, replaced by a democratic country that no longer had the security of things like a small crime rate, which was guaranteed under the communist rule. Paskova also mentioned the role of democracy, which ushered in a free market and certain personal freedoms for Bulgaria, but also brought to light societal problems like joblessness, corruption and depopulation.

While she said she was not specifically looking to find similarities between the two countries, Paskova says the photographs of Cuba repeatedly made her remember her own childhood, and reflect upon past generations of her own family. She also referenced a photograph of her parents’ old apartment building sitting in disrepair, creating a new photograph by combining it to show Soviet-style architecture of residential buildings in Havana today.

Paskova explains that by using layers of photography, she is able to continue to tell stories. As she herself explains:

“And so I attempted to bridge one country’s past to another country’s present, to show that political ideals, its profiteers and its victims, could remain unchanged by time or geography. And, above all, to ensure that some of those who cannot broadcast their ails are heard, whether a stranger in Cuba or my grandmother, who expired shortly after her memories did.”


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