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James Kent's Work in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

Photograph by Dr James Kent selected for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

  • Date31 May 2023

Congratulations to our colleague Dr James Kent, whose photograph ‘Living quarters in Downtown Havana’ (from the series "¡No hay más na'!" –– there’s nothing left) has been selected for the prestigious Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, which opens on 13 June and runs until 20 August 2023.

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The selected photograph, showing a washing line in the makeshift living quarters of family in Havana.

The Summer Exhibition has run without interruption since 1769, and is an open competition – anyone can submit their work but only a small proportion is selected for exhibition by a panel of artists. This year celebrated British painter David Remfry RA is co-ordinator, and the Exhibition will explore the theme ‘Only Connect’, inspired by the famous quotation from Howards End by E.M. Forster.

Dr Kent has worked extensively on Cuban society and the role played by photography, and his research by practice frequently involves his own prize-winning work as a photographer. The photograph selected for the Summer Exhibition depicts the interior of an abandoned building refashioned as temporary accommodation during the depths of Cuba's worst economic crisis since the collapse of the USSR.

Dr Kent has reflected on what his most recent work means to him: ‘Working in Cuba has meant witnessing the daily struggles faced by many, including shortages of basic goods, frequent power cuts and families forced out of homes at risk of collapse. Living conditions have induced desperation and hopelessness and the mass exodus of hundreds of thousands. I feel deeply honoured that this photograph will feature in this year's exhibition. It's been an adventure: working in Cuba, printing & production in London, delivering the works to the RA, and finally being selected by the committee. I'll be back in Cuba in June creating new work and collaborating with Cuban visual artists and it's going to be fun telling people about the surreal journey these photographs have been on.’

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