HAVANA: Intimations of Departure is John Comi-James' third book of photographs relating to his experience of that city, first visited in 2002 and many times since. Yet the city still surprises; he writes: Just when I think I kw parts of the city well, I catch myself walking in streets made unfamiliar by my photographs.' Arranged in six sequences, the book contemplates the visual experiences and emotional connections the photographer might lose were he unable to walk through its streets again. We imagine moments in the history of buildings, find ourselves led towards and almost overwhelmed by the energy of the street, and observe moments of individual preoccupation and solitude. In the final section, through text and colour, he responds to the blandishments of a tourist industry which all too often proposes that 'Cuba is on the verge of change - w is the perfect time to visit before its distinctive character is altered forever', countering the proposition that the Havana landscape simply presents an opportunity 'for great dramatic photos for competitions and portfolios', pointing to a wider culture of art and politics beyond the Che Guevara T-shirts and other souvenirs.
Born in Somerset, John Comino-James lives near Thame in Oxfordshire. He has published five previous photography books: Nearly Every Tuesday, which documented Thame's weekly street market; Fairground Attraction, which explored the way of life of travelling showmen; A Few Streets, a Few People, an intimate portrait of the people and surroundings of the Cayo Hueso barrio in Havana, Cuba; In a Very English Town, which acknowledges qualities that typify Thame as an English market town; and Fortunate Steps, photographs made in Havana's historic Calzada del Diez de Octubre. His work has been exhibited in Thame, Oxford, London and Havana.