“Would Libya be different? Would it be a different world? Something told us so. Something would be there for us.”
Centered around the 2011 Libyan Revolution, Libyan Sugar is a road trip through a war zone, detailed through phone camera photographs, journal entries, and written communication with family and colleagues. A record of Michael Christopher Brown’s life both inside and outside Libya during that year, the work is about a young man going to war for the first time and his experience of that age-old desire to get as close as possible to a conflict in order to discover something about war and something about himself—perhaps a certain definition of life and death.
“But more often than not the people just watched us pass, standing patiently in silence. There was an ephemeral beauty about their stillness as well as kind of power, as if they not only waited for the caravan but also for their presence to be acknowledged, as if this was about them, not just Fidel.”
Yo Soy Fidel follows the cortège of Fidel Castro, former Cuban revolutionary and politician, over a period of several days in late 2016. American photographer Michael Christopher Brown (born 1978) leaned out of a rear passenger window of his passing vehicle in order to photograph Cubans waiting alongside the highway for Fidel’s military convoy, carrying his cremated remains from Havana to Santiago, to pass. The route mirrored Fidel’s post-revolution journey from Santiago to Havana in 1959, which helped solidify his image as hero and legend. In Yo Soy Fidel, fragments of this initial image have survived his death though perhaps inevitably lead to a question of what is to come. A country largely seen for half a century as a symbol of dignity and hope in the fight against imperialism, Cuba has a choice: to stay true to Fidel’s revolutionary path or embrace globalization and all it entails.
Michael was raised in the Skagit Valley, a farming community in Washington State. His book Libyan Sugar was produced with a phone camera during seven months of the 2011 Libyan Revolution. Yo Soy Fidel documents Cubans observing Fidel Castro’s funeral cortège in 2016. He is based in Los Angeles.