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Rene Pena


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Works by René Pena

Born in Havana in 1957. René Peña’s work focuses on the duality between human inability to escape institutionalization and human desire for individualism. His photography is characterized by contrasts, between black and white, subject and background, subject and object. His need for contrast is also reflected in his place of residence: Peña currently inhabits the Cerro neighbourhood of Cuba which is home to a mostly poor African-Caribbean population, despite having been an enclave of Havana’s richest families in the 19th century. “My work is basically about the relationship between individuals and a particular social group how the individual keeps trying to have his own identity even though he can’t escape his social group and society in general. We all have our institutions family, religious, athletic, whatever and they carry their own ideologies with them. We can’t escape them. We’re all institutionalised but we all think we’re individuals. This duality is what motivates my work.” – René Peña