Carril Bici

Carril Bici

  • Frank Maidens
  • Scott Ramsay
From April 27th to May 22nd
Opening April 29th, 2011 from 7-10pm

Cycle enthusiasts Frank Maidens, Scott Ramsay and Anibal Davila explore the vehicle that powers embargo-era Cuba in Carril Bici.

In Cuba – where most people don’t have cars and access to manufactured goods is strictly limited – one bicycle can deliver a mattress, transport a family of four or act as a commercial taxi. Streets teem with personalized bikes of all shapes and sizes, customized out of pride or necessity; often fitted with one-of-a-kind, handmade parts. After catching passing glimpses of the handmade wheels, double-wide bike coaches and pristine vintage cycles that lined the streets of Havana in 2008, exhibit director Frank Maidens knew there was something unique about the way Cubans cherish their bikes. Returning with photographer Scott Ramsay and Bike Sauce co-founder Anibal Davila in 2010, they explored cities, towns and rural areas, exhaustively documenting the ways scarcity had led to elaborate creativity when it comes to bicycle construction and restoration. What they found was a culture where people take pride in the bicycles that propel their lifestyle, as each is different from the last. Carril Bici’s striking set of images shows both the poverty and resourcefulness of the Cuban people through the way they maintain, use and decorate their bicycles.

Maidens, a bike polo enthusiast, said he left the trip with a newfound appreciation for imaginative mechanics. “So much about the bicycle can be done, built, repaired and maintained with a magic combination of basic materials and creative thinking,” he says. “We were powerfully reminded that the ‘developed world’ has a lot to learn about sustainability and resourcefulness. If we were to embrace a commitment to fix and sustain, rather than a culture of ‘buy new and throw away,’ the beautiful, idiosyncratic character of refurbished things would not only do the planet a huge favour, but also permeate our lives and make us all more interesting.”

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