Ben Arnon
2016 Annual Juried Competition
Honorable Mention

Statement:
2015 was arguably the most important year for Cuban-U.S. relations since the Cuban Revolution in the 1950’s. When the United States and Cuba embarked upon a new relationship to usher in the year, the face of the island country began to shift immediately.

The year 2015 was a complex time for Cuban culture and society. On one hand, a new relationship with the U.S. brought Cubans new opportunities like greater access to the Internet and enhanced freedoms for individuals to establish multiple businesses.  On the other hand, change led to fears of future over-commercialization and consumerism that could potentially damage Cuban society and the priorities of future generations. Cuba was caught between a need for technological and human rights advancements and a nationalistic pride for the existing Cuban way of life.
Whether the Cuban system works or not can be fiercely debated. The underlying ideas, however, are powerful – that we can all exist together in harmony with equality and live in an inclusive society.

This series features photographs made in the Cuban cities of Havana, Trinidad, and Cienfuegos during November 2015. The photographs illustrate Cuban life and depict the spirit of a people in flux.

Bio:
Ben Arnon (b. 1975) is a New York City-based visual journalist whose focus is documentary reportage, street portraiture, and the impact of human existence on urban landscapes.  Photographs from two series of Ben’s recent work will be exhibited throughout New York’s Chelsea Market from October 1 to December 31, 2016.  Additionally, two of Ben’s photographs from his “Black Lives Matter” series were exhibited during the 2016 DNC Convention in Philadelphia at an exhibition called Truth To Power.

Ben received an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management in Los Angeles and a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies in Society & Culture from Emory University in Atlanta.  Additionally, Ben has taken numerous courses at the International Center of Photography and Aperture Foundation, both located in New York. At Emory, Ben published a thesis entitled ‘Packaging Racial Identities: Market Segmentation in the U.S. Recorded Music Industry’ which examined the ways in which race has historically been utilized in the production, distribution and marketing of recorded music.

Along with his studies, Ben’s visual journalism work is also informed by his experiences of working in various business roles within the music, film, and technology industries from 1998 to 2015.

Ben writes frequently for the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/author/benarnon-583), offering social commentary on a wide array of topics including visual arts, culture, society, digital media, and politics.


Artist’s website:
 www.benarnonphoto.com