Tyler Mitchell is just 20 years old and has a very ambitious project: show the world how things really are in Cuba, an island that seems to be opening up little by little to the outside world, but has remained airtight for the vast majority for decades, giving rise to speculations and legends about how the way of life and culture of the people are, particularly the youth.
With 30 rolls of film and a dream, he just finished writing a book, “El Paquete”, in which he shows the skating fever that has started in Cuba, giving rise to an interesting subculture that they don’t yet want to show the world, as the government won’t allow the country to project such a “modern” image.
Since Cuba is still under a restrictive regime, Mitchell wondered if it was a good idea to search for an image of the island apart from the outside world’s vision of it. Besides, he didn’t want to get involved in anything political.
For this, almost by accident, he heard two Americans talking about a project they were doing, which consisted of bringing skate equipment to the kids and teens that had just discovered the skater movement.
“As there is no Internet, people have to trust what other people say, so I had to wait for the event to start and see how the skaters started to gather in the place that they told me,” remembers the photographer.
He claims he felt the way it would probably feel to travel back in time to the 70s in New York or Los Angeles. Skateboards are so new on the island that most people have never seen one before, and so when someone nails a new trick, an awesome move without falling off the board or something similar, the shouts are astonishing and the applause is deafening. The kids sweat, but they don’t let that stop them, and the colors of Havana form an ideal setting to enjoy this activity as if it were the first time it had ever been done.
Aside from the book, a documentary is being made from his photographs. It will probably be one of the first visual documentaries that shows how changes are starting to be seen in Cuba, even if it’s just a way to have fun.