Coco Fusco: The Empty Plaza, the inaugural exhibition in the video gallery at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University in Ithica, NY, curated by Andrea Inselmann and Hannah Ryan.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Fusco lectured at the Africana Studies and Research Center as part of Cornell University Department of Art History's Graduate Symposium on October 4, 2013.
In The Empty Plaza / La Plaza Vacia (2012), the Plaza de la Revolución in Havana, Cuba becomes the protagonist in Fusco's 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.
“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.”