Artist's Statement

Richard Sharum

In early 2016 I began documenting the disappearing methods and practices of the Campesinos, the most isolated and rural people of Cuba. The need for the project arose from two encroaching issues: First, with the opening of American tourism in 2015 (and therefore the influx of cash and technology) the way of life for the Campesino was set to evolve at an historic pace. With this change I sought to record the daily life and practices of those who for centuries have survived solely by the fruits of their labor, both on land and sea- mostly without electricity or modern tools and transportation. Second, contemporary trends have initiated a crisis in rural communities as families are losing a substantial number of young males to the growing cities. As a result of this historic, unprecedented exodus, the labor force and generational knowledge needed to sustain the remaining population of these susceptible villages are being decimated. The promise of a modern economy and the new possibilities presented by the internet are creating an irresistible current, flowing from the countryside to the more populated urban areas. What began as curiosity towards the island and the agricultural labor force became a full fledged project, resulting in 4 extensive trips thus far with one last trip scheduled. As a part of Cuban history not normally seen, my goal is to record these fiercely independent, yet humble citizens, as I see their lives vulnerable to the most change. With this change comes the concern of an ancient way of life and time disappearing, quickly receding as Cuba simultaneously strives to hold on to its identity and catch up with the modern world.