In the spring of 2014, Klara Källström and Thobias Fäldt travelled from the US to Cuba in the spirit of visiting the country before it would change. They had brought along analogue camera film that they feared was damaged by the x-rays of the security controls, so they went searching for new film.
In the streets of Havana, they accidentally ran into one of Fidel Castro’s former private photographers. He took them to a camera shop, where despite the general lack of photographic equipment in the city, there were three rolls of film bearing the inscription “Lucky”. The salesman handed over the rolls and said: “These are the last rolls of Cuba.”
The expiration date on the “Lucky”-rolls was marked to 1994. They were sent to Cuba from the Soviet Union as part of the former Soviet-Cuba trade agreements that subsequently ended in the 1990s. Källström and Fäldt photographed during two weeks in Cuba unknowing the conditions of the rolls and whether they would still be sensitive to light after such a long time had passed since due date.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the leadership of the United States came to believe that Cuban socialism would wither away on its own, and that all that was needed was a little push in the right direction. Therefore, the “Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act” was adopted by then president William Clinton in March of 1996. This new approach to regime change provided the United States government with a legal and economic framework to bring about “democracy and market economy in Cuba”.
In 2008 the US Department of State notified Congress that it would provide funds to the USAID for projects that “hasten the end of the Castro dictatorship”. One of the most famous of these projects was the Twitter-like Cuban social network ZunZuneo which received its first funding in the summer of 2009 under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This and other similar projects continued to be funded during the rest of the tenure of Secretary Clinton with the proclaimed aim of “increasing the flow and access to accurate, independent, and uncensored information”. The essence of these projects was to circumvent the Cuban state monopoly on information by supporting non-governmental organizations and creating social networks for communication between citizens.
In march of 2016, US president Obama visited Cuba and Havana would witness a free concert by the rock band The Rolling Stones. The concert, featuring the 1969 hit song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, was, some were convinced, the symbolic concert of change in the Americas.
Meanwhile, the little known senator, Bernie Sanders, from the state of Vermont in the United States took the lead in opinion polls for the presidential nomination to the governing US Democratic Party, and at the same time the main candidate for the Republican Party, Jeb Bush, seemed to be losing the nomination against the real-estate tycoon Donald Trump, known for promoting US financial protectionism and political isolationism.
With cruise liners once again mooring the Havana harbour, US artists gearing up for further concerts, and US airlines taking flight reservations to the Island, the American spring seemed to bring much anticipated change to the Western hemisphere.
In the spring of 2016, author turned couch photographer, Johannes Wahlström set out to document the change manifesting itself in messages sent over the US social network Twitter leading up to the US presidential elections later that year.