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Cuba (diptych)
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© Milton Rogovin

Milton Rogovin
American, 1989
Gelatin silver prints

2003.80.17

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Everything that I did, like photography, was always to show those who I call "the forgotten ones," the people who are poor. The most convincing thing I could do is just to show them as they are. If you see the way they look, the way they stand, what's in the background, you can decide for yourself.
-Milton Rogovin

Milton Rogovin's signature approach to his subjects was that he never posed them. He simply asked them if he could take their pictures-both in their workplaces and at home.
Here, workers dressed in dirty jeans and white shirts stand at the entrance of the mine where they work. Rogovin focused on a young man with glistening skin, which shows beneath his open shirt. The man gazes pleasantly toward the camera, in contrast to his coworkers who seem rather tentative about being photographed.
In Rogovin's accompanying portrait of the worker at home, everyone looks relaxed. The man wears a similar expression, but smiles. He stands with one arm wrapped around his tall wife, and in the other, holds their child. Dark palm leaves and a painting of a tropical scene hint at where they live: Cuba. In the 1980s, Rogovin decided to portray an international community of coal miners. He traveled to mining areas around the world, including this one in Moa Bay near Guantánamo.