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A Photography Show in The Hudson Valley Examines a Different Side of Cuba, and the Utopian Hope of NFTs

Written By Editor on 8/8/22 | 8/8/22

Dancer Osnel Delgado photographed by Laura Diffenderfer 

SAUGERTIES, New York, August 5, 2022 – Artist Laura Diffenderfer offers an exhibition of  photographs, “It Won’t Be This Way Forever,” at Opus 40 in Saugerties, NY August 11– September 30. There will be an opening reception on Saturday, August 13 from 4pm-6pm  (RSVP here). 

The photographs, which feature Cuban dancers, ask viewers to pause in in-between moments— the ones we want to last forever, the ones we want to pass quickly, and moments of 

uncertainty and change. “Many of us feel like we are suspended in time in some kind of  transition right now given Covid-19, which has been particularly destabilizing to the dance  community, and to Cuba,” says Diffenderfer. The photographs feature dancers not on stage,  but in quiet moments of transition in the studio and in the wings of a theater.  

Maria Karla Araujo photographed by Laura Diffenderfer 

Since 2012, Diffenderfer has made more than a dozen trips to Cuba, capturing the movement  and the mood of a group of Havana’s contemporary dancers. This show includes a selection of  intimate photographs of one of Cuba’s best dance troupes — Malpaso Dance Company — taken over several years. 

The show’s title, “It Won’t Be This Way Forever,” also nods to the American understanding of  Cuba—that the island is “suspended in time” due to its 1950s cars and fading pastel building  facades. “In talking with others about Cuba, many people shared that they also hope to visit the  island before it changes. As I came to understand more about Cuba, this sentiment, while  understandable, started to make me uncomfortable. A large part of why Cuba looks so nostalgic  to us is a result of the U.S. Embargo, which prevents trade between the two nations,” says  Diffenderfer. The last time Cuba could import American cars was 1962, when the embargo—the  longest in modern U.S. history—began. 

And, you won’t see pastel colors or classic cars in this series of photographs. Diffenderfer says  she wanted to turn attention toward a resource that Cuba has in spades: extraordinarily special  dancers.  

Malpaso Dance Company photographed by Laura Diffenderfer 

The photographs will be available for purchase, with a portion of each sale benefiting Malpaso  Dance Company, which operates independently from the Cuban government. Two photographs  in the series will be sold as NFTs, as a long-term experiment.  

Further reflecting on our human desire for the everlasting, and the reality that all things are  ever-changing, one pair of photographs in the series will be sold in two different ways: the first  pair as an NFT, and the second through an agreement on paper. Both pairs will be sold with  smart contracts which stipulate how artists will benefit from the first sale, and each future sale  (Malpaso and Diffenderfer will receive percentages each time). One sale will be agreed to by  contract, while the other will be programmed into the NFT, allowing payments to be executed  automatically. This experiment aims to explore which method of exchange will be more reliable  over time. 

“Blockchain—the underlying system through which NFTs are sold—has been referred to as a  new architecture for trust, where ownership of something is not mediated through an  institution, but is logged forever in a ledger that is collectively maintained. It tries to solve the  problem of a lack of trust in institutions and governments with technology. NFTs can be  programmed in interesting ways to provide automatic payments to artists when a work is  resold, allowing them to participate in the art market in new ways. But, how exactly this will all  work in the future is unknown. Will blockchain offer us access to more community, freedom,  and trust? Can we trust computers more than humans—or at least groups more than  individuals? Will blockchain offer artists new ways of creating a sustainable life? Or, is  blockchain most useful as a metaphor for our desire for community, for trust, and for a more  equitable way of organizing resources in society,” says Diffenderfer.  

If this all sounds heady, rest assured that the photographs are poetic not pedantic.  

Caroline Crumpacker, the Executive Director of Opus 40 noted, “We are delighted to showcase  these remarkable photos by Laura Diffenderfer as we close out our 2022 gallery season. Hers is  a deeply thoughtful lens onto a fascinating dance company that we would love to welcome to  Opus 40 at some time in future, hopefully also ushering in a moment of more fluid international  artistic exchange.” 

The exhibition will run from August 11–September 30, 2022. An opening reception will be held  on Saturday, August 13 from 4pm-6pm, including an artist talk, drinks, and music. Tickets to  the reception are offered on a sliding scale. Visit or  email for more.  

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