Juan Aristides Otamendiz
Cuba has a very vibrant photography scene. Due to the special conditions of the country, our work is global less pressing. It´s a pleasure to have the chance to give you an insight into contemporary Cuban photography. My name is Juan Aristides Otamendiz. I am an autodidactic Cuban documentary-photographer, born 1985 in Havana. My family emigrated in the 40s from Haiti to Cuba. My mother was a primary school teacher and my father was an engineer. I worked for 11 years as a model till I discovered documentary-photography. In September 2015 I started participating as the only Afrocuban & non-academic at elite photo-workshops of the UNEAC-Union Cuban Writers & Artists in Havana. Parallel to that I began to work as a photo-assistant. Since then my work has been showcased at 10 exhibitions in Cuba and Europa. I am a member of MAKRO, Cuba´s first independent-photography-agency.
I grew up in Lawton, a marginal Afrocuban quarter in the outskirts of La Habana. In the 1950s, Lawton was a resident neighborhood of the rich Cubans and US Americans. With the beginning of the revolution, the followers of the ousted dictator Batista left the island in the 50’s. When the nationalization of industrial enterprises took place in 1960, a large part of the upper and middle classes followed them: they were mostly white, wealthy and convinced that their exile would be short-lived. On top of the hills Lawton looks down on the harbor and inner city of Havana. Today, tourists don’t get lost here – and no one else without having good reasons. Shortage, crime, machismo and alcoholism determine our life. The majority of my classmates from the elementary school are in prison, have left the country or are dead. I had luck… – But that’s just one of the many faces of my diverse neighborhood. Lawton is the nucleus of the current resistance against the Castro government, home of lawyers, writers, poets, musicians, artists, some of the best the best doctors in the country and normal families whose aim is to be good people. With the series REPARTEROS-RETRATOS DESDE EL BARRIO I portray my people in everyday life beyond the fast lane… (candid / conceptual documentary photography / long term project since 2015)

The Addis Foto Fest (AFF) was established in 2010 by award-winning photographer and cultural entrepreneur, Aida Muluneh. The festival is organized by Desta for Africa Creative Consulting PLC. AFF is a biennial international photography festival held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It has previously featured exhibitions, portfolio reviews, conferences, projections and film screenings in many different renowned venues. It is also the first and only international photography festival in East Africa.