As an isolated island on the reform, Cuban laws are complicated and contradictory including the one on citizenship and travel. A citizen who leaves the country and doesn’t return within eleven months, without making special arrangements to stay away longer, essentially forfeits their Cuban citizenship and is not legally entitled to return. These people will be stateless if they cannot acquire another citizenship.
Alexis Hernandez Manrique, 42, a Cuban by birth, came to Europe in 2003 to make a living as a Salsa dancer after divorcing with his first wife. After years of suffering in central Europe, now he is living in Switzerland and running a Salsa class with a 10 years visa. By not returning to Cuba in years, he lost his Cuban citizenship but he still have to keep his Cuban passport as a condition to enter and leave the island although he is treated like a foreigner in his mother land. This piece is an exploration of a Cuban who is seeking for better life in the Western world but his heart and soul want him to be back in Cuba where his root is planted in.
Soy Cubano 2013 – 2015
February 11, 2014. Havana, Cuba. Alexis sits on the back of his grandfather’s car from the 50s. It is nearly impossible for civilians from generation Y to own any property in Cuba because of the complicated law on ownership and the low income.
May 9, 2015. Zurich, Switzerland. Alexis teachs a Salsa class at Zurich Central Station during Zurich Dance Festival.
February 1, 2014. Havana, Cuba. After the 1959 revolution, American cultures and lifestyle are ban in Cuba for years including music. Back then, a group of people still gather together in this house to share their passion with playing and dancing to Jazz secretly even when some of them were put in jail. They are Alexis’s source of inspiration.
February 10, 2014. Havana, Cuba. Alexis make some necklaces from African seeds which are belived to help him increase his inner energy.
May 8, 2015. Zurich, Switzerland. Alexis exchanges ideas for new performance with his students and colleagues at his dance studio in the old town of Zurich.
May 7, 2015. Zurich, Switzerland. Alexis tries to call relatives back home in Havana.
May 7, 2015. Zurich, Switzerland. Alexis and his girlfriend revise his examination results. Because of his intense dancing practices, Alexis faces a lot of problems with his shoulderblade, spine and toe bones.
May 8, 2015. Zurich, Switzerland. His shoulderblade gets hurt after a morning dance routine.
January 19, 2014. Havana, Cuba. Alexis’s 41th birthday cake. He is the main financial source for his big family including his mother, brother, two sisters and their children in Cuba.
January 19, 2014. Havana, Cuba. Alexis is delighted when Puppy, a renowned Cuban composer and singer, come to his birthday party.
February 11, 2014. Havana, Cuba. Alexis holds his mother’s arthritis foot and cries before leaving Cuba in several hours. He can only stay in Cuba for one month and extend another one month like a regular foreign tourist.
May 7, 2015. Zurich, Switzerland. Alexis hangouts with his elder brother who also immigrate to Europe few years after Alexis.
May 9, 2015. Havana, Cuba. Alexis gives flyers about his dancing club to visitors during Zurich Dance Festival.
May 7, 2015. Zurich, Switzerland. Alexis embraces his Swiss girlfriend on the dance floor during a Latin night at the local club.
February 10, 2014. Havana, Cuba. Alexis tries to get a closer relationship with his foster child. He supports her and her family financially after her father died on a car accident when she was 1 year old.
May 6, 2015. Zurich, Switzerland. Alexis meets up with another Cuban immigrant on the way to his apartment.
May 9, 2015. Zurich, Switzerland. Alexis works on the computer while his girlfriend sleeps on his back.
February 13, 2014. Havana, Cuba. Sunset at the Malecon, Alexis's way back home.