Digital Careinside the circle

Basic Necessities

2021 By Nestor Siré, Steffen Köhn
An image showing a Telegram (chat app) post with various food products -
maionaise, olives, juice, oil, bread which appear to be for sale in Havana,
A screenshot illustrating the informal market via chat groups in Cuba, taken from "Basic Necessities", 2021 by Nestor Siré and Steffen Köhn.

As government-run supermarkets closed during lockdown in Cuba, digital black markets evolved on messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram, becoming valuable spaces for swapping essential items and sharing information on scarce products. Basic Necessities is an artistic research project that documents the repurposing of existing tools to circumvent a collapsing system, analysing the visual product exchange of over 700,000 users.

An image of messages selling various goods being sold on the black market in Cuba.
Image from Basic Necessities, 2021 by Nestor Siré and Steffen Köhn.