A base de viandas: Arien Chang Castan

January 19 - February 27, 2022

"with my work I try to share part of the daily life of Cubans, to discover instances of another reality, one in which the individual is the protagonist of an unrepeatable moment."

Thomas Nickles Project is pleased to present Arien Chang Castan's A base de viandas Series, which celebrates the art of body building in Cuba. In a country where scarcity is the norm, these portraits of hyper-muscled, half-naked men posing for the camera contain a certain narrative of the improbable. In Cuba, bodybuilding is not forbidden, but it is not government sponsored either, and here Chang captures a cultural sub-universe of unexpected tenderness and unabashed physicality amidst public and private moments; where men build their own materiality, even their own gym equipment.

From National Geographic's Pumping Iron in Cuba: Arien Chang Reveals an Underground Scene: In Cuba, the bodybuilding culture is largely underground. Bodybuilders manage to sculpt their bodies to this extreme level despite lacking many necessary resources. Chang explains that “gyms without the basic requirements, deficient meals, and nonexistent vitamins” make it difficult for most Cubans to maintain an average level of health, let alone achieve the perfectly honed muscles bodybuilding requires. Some competitors’ families in the U.S. ship them vitamins and supplements, but most have to make do without.

Installation Views