Dum spiro spero (while I breathe, I hope)

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Once I looked up at the word “woman” in many different languages and noticed that out of the long list an exception caught my attention: the word woman in Vietnamese is written separately as wo man (đàn bà). First, I found this ‘grammatical separation’ just interesting but I soon realized the paradox this hides.

As a father, partner and son I grew up surrounded by women. Women who were able to go to school, to work, to dream, to vote, to fall in love, to live in freedom. Delicate, fragile, passionate, yet strong and determined. Though there are deep scars of oppression in our society in which a woman is not able to be herself or to express the core of her essence; like the beauty, light and love living inside her soul. Imagine a butterfly entrapped within a tiny cage not allowing her to spread her wings to fly away. I wonder……how would I feel?…How do they feel?...

Despite the gains in women’s rights of the last decades, women’s oppression remains a multi-layered and established issue in the 21st century. It is often easy for people to ignore the social and cultural manifestations of women’s oppression. It is a complex reality that includes overall sexualization of women in popular culture, the association of women with products that can be traded, the acceptance of abusive behaviour towards women, the classification of women as both intellectually and physically inferior to men.

She is visible, yet unreachable.

A woman put under pressure by society, wrapped into a visible and still invisible veil. Imprisoned and confined within a multi-dimensional and inconvenient truth that silently spreads inside her soul. A woman who wants to break out of her silk confinement but no one is there. A woman with no rights to use her voice that cannot be heard to reach out for help. A woman that does not feel safe and disappears behind the veils like dust. Yet a woman with a strong willpower to break out, spread hope, share strength and breathe through.

I could not be more grateful to all the beautiful women that have crossed my path. To them I owe my presence in this world and the person I am today.

Thank you.

People portraits in Cuba

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I walked so many kilometers around the streets of Havana. I met so many people, faces and characters that if I could have taken thousands of shots. Although I was tempted to take countless number of photos, I chose to talk to them and get to know who they were. However, in some cases our conversations landed onto photography and having a camera at hands made things easier. I picked some subjects to photograph. If you ask me why, it is actually a blend of feelings and not necessary a specific stereotype. Whether it was the moment, the place, our conversations.....it does not matter. What matters is the images I am sharing.

Wondering and dreaming

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Wondering and dreaming

We live in a society that often makes us wonder. Lost in what direction to take to realize our dreams. Empty but trying to fill our inner soul. We are the mirror of a world often unkind, a reflection of what we see, what live and what we experience. A world seen by a girl, with her innocence, her dreams and her wonder, who has lived two worlds so close to one other but yet so different and divided. A journey through ourselves, looking for answers and reflect upon us.

Vladimir and his farm

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I met so many wonderful people during my staying in Cuba. One of them is Vladimir, the hardest worker I have ever met. Fortunately I met him but unfortunately I could not spend enough time with Vladimir till a couple of days before the end of my trip. He is a truly multi tasking person. He is into constructions building a new house for his son. He owns a typical old American car driving people around whenever possible. By the way, he does his own maintenance, assembling, disassembling and fixing his car. He owns a small farm that gives him food and money when he is able to see his grown up pigs. Icing on the cake, he is a fantastic, friendly and open minded person. I wish, I had enough time to tell his story but time wasn't on my side due to his fully packed days. Nevertheless, I agreed to go with him to feed his animals the day before my flight.

I joined him in his car to drove to his farm. It was a 10 minutes drive into a remote area. Only a few homes where visible and a few farmers.

We stopped in front of a rusty red metal gate leading to a banana field. After a couple of minutes walking we arrived at another metal gate hidden between the woods: the entrance to Vladimir small world. As we approached the gate, a dog inside was excited to see him (and to get some food). As the door opened, the cute black dog came along. I do not remember his name but Vladimir explained me that the dog is there to keep him company, to guard his farm and to kill rats.

The space looked like an old garage however with no roof but well protected by surrounding trees, including mango. As we walked through I could hear the pigs impatiently waiting for their dinner. The aisle became narrower with a small hand-assembled space: the home of his animals. Every day, he collects food left over from the neighbors into a plastic bucket. He took the bucket and added corn and powder milk to it. Breakfast was served. There were two very large pigs, rabbits into small cages and a goat standing still in front of us. Vladimir took his time to feed all his animals with parent-like care and love. His dedicating was outstanding. When done, he took his goat on a leash to take him back to the banana field where he will be spending the night eating banana leaves.