Documentary

The Void We Leave

By chance, Oded Wagenstein met and photographed an ageing community in Cuba, which led him to question what remains after we pass on?

Pic above: Leonada Gelato Machena, in her one-room apartment. Cienfuegos, Cuba

In 2014, a chance encounter led me to meet the members of an ageing community, living in a crumbling apartment complex in the town of Cienfuegos, Cuba. Although approximately sixty years of age separated us, we bonded almost immediately.

I have returned to visit them a few times per year since. On my subsequent visits, I found apartments turning empty. The tenant left the world, leaving a few personal objects behind and the void between the walls. Those walls witnessed so much: relationships and birthdays, joy, and sadness. Now, they stand in their solitude. Soon, the government will lodge a new tenant in the apartment and walls will be painted again, until they too will become another layer of paint on the wall.

Moria Antonia Gomez’s one-room apartment. Cienfuegos, Cuba.
Tereza Boniza in her bedroom. On the wall (left) a picture of her mother when she was young. Cienfuegos, Cuba.
Colourful objects pasted on a wall in a one-room apartment. Cienfuegos, Cuba.
Delphine Fernandez, in his one-room apartment, surrounded by images of Lenin and Marx. Every day he wears the uniforms from his work at customs, even though he retired a long time ago. Cienfuegos, Cuba.
Plastic flowers. Cienfuegos, Cuba.
Ilama Bural Morachon with a broken arm in her apartment. Cienfuegos, Cuba.
Havinyo Agiar’s image reflected through a broken mirror in his one-room apartment. Cienfuegos, Cuba.
Onelia Katyo, watching the street through her apartment’s door. Anyone who is passing by Onelia’s door is her potential friend: a passing neighbour, children on their way to the nearby school, even a stray cat. Cienfuegos, Cuba.
An empty bed of a deceased tenant. Cienfuegos, Cuba.
Berta walking down the hall. Cienfuegos, Cuba.
Share

The photographer

Oded Wagenstein

Oded Wagenstein is a photographer and lecturer who uses the photographic medium to explore the relationship between Ageing and Exclusion.

Other featured work

Like Last Year’s Snow

In a remote community of nomadic deer herders in Northern Siberia, photographer Oded Wagenstein visually documents the process of ageing in isolation.

Read More

Explore More

Sideshow

Photographer Chris Harrison shoots street photography that delights with a confection of chance, composition, colour and playfulness.

Read More

Monuments

‘Monuments’ is a series of collaborative photographs by Jocelyn Janon in which he aims to capture the power, spirit and charisma of the female body.

Read More

Rear Window

Photographer Jocelyn Janon visualises the mood and feelings he had as a young boy, creating worlds in the back of his father’s Citroen.

Read More

On a soif

Photographer Jef Van den Bossche’s images capture the dying of the light for Belgium’s volkscafés, or people’s pubs, in the face of globalisation and cultural shifts.

Read More
Menu