In Neil Rashba's photographs of Cuba, piles of rubble lie next
to graceful archways, television antennae sprout from Art
Nouveau buildings, and entire blocks of buildings seem ready to
It's an architectural heritage that the Palm Valley
photographer describes as "ravishing-yet-ravaged."
About 30 of Rashba's color photographs will be on display in
"Cuba Libre, Photographing Cuba's Architecture," an exhibit that
opens Dec. 4 at The Jacksonville Museum of Contemporary Art.
Museum director Henry Flood Robert Jr. describes the
photographs as straightforward in one sense and dramatic in
"What he chooses to shoot, the angularity of shots, the
interplay of light and shadow all contribute to a sophisticated
sense of drama," Robert said. "And his care for what he's
photographing is interwoven inextricably in the fabric of these
Like Italian photographer Andrea Brizzi, whose work is featured
in Cuba: 400 Years of Architectural Heritage (Whitney, $49.95),
Rashba has visited Cuba to capture images of buildings that
might be changed or demolished in the near future because of
their deteriorating state.
Rashba makes his living by taking documentary photographs of
new buildings for architects and manufacturers, but those shoots
are always done to a customer's specifications.
When Rashba met friends who helped him arrange a visit to Cuba,
he seized the opportunity to satisfy his curiosity about the
island's architecture and to take photographs for his own
"It's not illegal to go over, but you can't spend money,"
The photographer made contact with the National Center for
Conservation, Restoration and Museums, a Cuban organization that
oversees zoning, planning and organization for almost all
buildings in Cuba, he said.
When he visits Cuba, he stays with the center's staff members
and brings all of his film and equipment with him into the
country to avoid illegal spending. The center has granted Rashba
access to shoot anywhere he wants, even military installations,
But taking photographs in Cuba is very different from his
normal commercial work.
"If you saw what I normally travel with, you'd faint," Rashba
said. "I usually take about 16 cases, including 25 lights, which
take two people to handle."
When working in Cuba, he takes a fourth as much equipment and
shoots interiors with available light. …