What has been your best meeting in Cuba?
To be honest, my trip in Cuba wasn’t really in this perspective. It was more about friendship. We were just a bunch of friends, who wanted to explore this country. Of course we met some Cubans on the street, at some bars, etc. In Havana, because we were strangers, people were constantly asking for money in exchange of a service (at first supposedly free). Sometimes it was cool, like listening to Cuban music in a modest bar or buying clothes in an apartment. But most of the time it was exhausting. So we preferred to observe the city life from some distance at some point. And it was really nice ! In the countryside, it was different. There was less people and mostly tourists. So it was more about exploring the beautiful landscapes around Viñales. And when you’re a group of 6 friends, the relationship with locals is very different, more on the surface. But that didn’t prevent us to learn a lot about Cuba, to understand their way of life and to have a deep experience.
Valentier Astier - 25 years old french photographer, living in Montreal
Tell us more about these 2 images and your series?
Both shots, like almost all of my Nightshift series, were taken on Medium Format slide film. The Petrol Pumps image was a location I had driven past a few times, and knew it had potential, so I made a mental note of it and I thought about what would heighten the mood I wanted to convey. It had a sense of longing to it, of a calling and that the silence would be almost deafening in the right situation. I knew it had to be at night, on slide film, and I later realised it had to be foggy weather.
Tell us more about this image and your series “It’s Spring and I’m Alone” ?
One a weekday morning I was waiting for the train to go to work. I decided to walk to the other end of the station and came upon this random cake, barely touched and completely left alone from the night before. There was a beautiful light from sun rise, so I took the picture, as I felt there was something lonely and discarded about a Happy Birthday cake.
A few months later I uploaded the picture to social media, and a good friend called me. She told me that the cake had been given to her by a patient at the pharmacy that she works at. This patient had a bit of a crush on her and this gift was a bit too much, she didn’t want it. She left it at her work place and when she returned from her lunch break it had gone. Until I took a photo of it.
More generally, my series is about the feeling of abandonment and isolation – how they form and consume and give way. On my girlfriend’s birthday she flew away from Australia and I was upset, pissed off and forced to be alone. At the same time Spring was starting and colours were becoming beautiful and people were happy and alive. So in many ways those things made me feel worse – that the world was waking up and joyful, but that I felt like a funeral.
Towards the end of the series the images are more happy and playful, as my period of isolation was ending – after 5 months I left to join my girlfriend overseas.
Matthew Dunne - 26, live in Cambridge, England now, but until last month Melbourne, Australia was his home.