The Empty Plaza

Performance/Video | 2012

The Empty Plaza/La Plaza Vacía is a single-channel video. Inspired by the organized public protests in the Middle East beginning in 2011, the artist took note of the communal spaces around the world being utilized and, in contrast, those left empty.

The empty Plaza de la Revolución in Havana, Cuba becomes the protagonist in her meditation on public space, revolutionary promise, and memory. Intermittent close-range views bring the Plaza’s architecture into focus; long takes documenting Fusco’s passage through the vacant square are punctuated by vintage archival footage depicting scenes from Post-Revolutionary Cuba. Throughout the duration of the video, a Spanish narration, written by acclaimed Cuban journalist Yoani Sanchez, describes what appears—and does not appear—in view. Also on exhibit are film stills from The Empty Plaza. Cinematic in impact, the images are dominated by a broad horizon line as the large sky and the vast civic plaza are nearly equalized.

“The absence of public in some plazas seemed just as resonant and provocative as its presence in others,” Fusco recalls. “Cuba’s Plaza of the Revolution is one such place—a stark, inhospitable arena where all the major political events of the past half-century have been marked by mass choreography, militarized displays and rhetorical flourish. I decided to create a piece about that legendary site—an empty stage filled with memories, through which every foreigner visitor passes, while nowadays many, if not most, Cubans flee.”