Working exclusively with photographic film, Charles Anselmo has produced bodies of work based upon industrial complexes, peripheral urban spaces, post-Katrina New Orleans and the derelict military bases of California, always working from a platform of social-documentary narrative.
A veteran of sixty-seven photographic trips to Cuba since 2000, Anselmo has widely exhibited his Havana portfolios while visually capturing the city’s unique historical/architectural narrative. He has also conducted numerous field workshops to Havana for small groups of photographers eager to visually engage Cuba’s remarkably compelling culture for the first time.
Anselmo exhibits his photographs internationally, curates United States exhibits of work by established Cuban film photographers, operates a large format digital printing studio and will soon collaborate in the opening of a photographic printing studio and gallery in Havana. He is Visiting Lecturer at two Cuban schools: the Havana School of Creative Photography, and the San Alejandro Academy of Fine Art, Cuba’s oldest art school.
Within the fabric of populous urban environments there persist abandoned places which exist tenuously as inconvenient symbols of an earlier time, and which prompt complex questions concerning design, intention, social motivation and waste. These silent architectural icons are bestrewn with the uncertainties of the past, effectively deconstructing the man-made environment as a place of emotional permanence.
I try to evaluate the strange dissonances of this forgotten urban landscape in order to determine how memory seems to change perception as we reconsider the past. The artifacts in my photographs indicate a rich and compelling archaeology of loss and discreetly suggest a visual compression of time, memory, and the past. The images address issues of transition and history, but they’re also concerned with the role of the human witness in environments saturated with a rich metaphorical subtext, disclosed within a hidden world of remnants. Articulating their own visually inherent narratives, these disparate, fragmented realities remain disconnected from their original identities.
My photographs are formally linked by the many visual elements and textures of broken structure and interiors, but ultimately this work is more explicitly concerned with the intersection of place memory and social context. Working exclusively with medium and large format film, my images embrace an attempt to fuse an aesthetic form with a social idea as a way of interpreting the past, photographically captured in the warm palette of decay.