Moments: a blink of history


© The Korda Estate                                                                 The event was a memorial for victims of the explosion on board La Coubre as its munitions cargo was unloaded in Havana harbour the day before, on 4.iii.60. Guevara had tended to multiple casualties as both medic and revolutionary.

It is exactly fifty years since Argentinian doctor and revolutionary Ernesto Guevara – Che to his amigos – was executed in Bolivia having been captured the day before. Co-incidentally, it’s a hundred years since the October Revolution catapulted the Bolsheviks to power.
Such historic symmetry must have meant something at the time. At an exhibition in 2006 the V&A devoted to that star-capped image [3,2], Alberto Korda’s original, March 1960 contact sheet was shown. 

Eleven frames feature Castro, three of six clearly show Simone de Beauvoir & Jean-Paul Satre [4,4; 5,4; 6,4] while two, taken nano-seconds apart are Guevara [3,2; 4,2].

The most reproduced image on the planet resulted from chance, milliseconds in time. Eleven years on from that V&A show and the astounding significance of those moments continue to ricochet around the memory of it.

He trained as a doctor and portraits of him in earlier, civilian times demonstrate the radical alteration in him by virtue of the revolving of his perspective.

What happened to his mind to transform a gentle, idealistic soul into the grated rind of desiccated idealist?

Events, dear boy. Events. But what is it that has the power to harden a man and remove all the light and kindness?

Whatever it is, avoid it.

Image 1950’s: Che in more carefree days?