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Your Eyes Will be an Empty Word, 2021

Recalling an action from the 1990s by María Teresa Hincapié, in which the artist laid out flowers in the patio of the Ex Templo de Santa Teresa la Antigua convent in Mexico City (Days of Light, 1995), Coco Fusco created the video essay Your Eyes Will Be an Empty Word, a pilgrimage by launch and boat to Hart Island, off the Bronx in New York. Popularly known as a potter’s field (a cemetery for unknown, unclaimed and indigent people), Hart Island is the final resting place of many people who died of AIDS in the 1980s, as well as many victims of COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021.

For a long time the island remained under the control of the Department of Correction, and access was completely restricted. It was not until 2019 that a law was passed to turn its management over to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. However, access was prohibited again during the COVID-19 crisis and, faced with the impossibility of reaching the temporarily-closed island, Fusco rowed around it in a small boat while throwing flowers into the sea in a symbolic act. The work combines images from the boat pilgrimage with others of the island, its shoreline and the cemetery, accompanied by a sound piece composed by Pauline Kim Harris, set to the beat of the narration of poet Pamela Sneed, who reflects on death, epidemics, bodies and their future. The title is a reference to the poem by Cesare Pavese, ‘Death will come and it will have your eyes’, which appears in fragments in the video’s script like a mantra, like an ocean current that draws us into the course of life.

Technical details

Original title:
Your Eyes Will be an Empty Word
Registration number:
Fusco, Coco
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
Object type:
Audiovisual recording
Single-channel video, colour, sound, 13 min 30 s
Edition number:
Edició de 10
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
© Coco Fusco, VEGAP, Barcelona
It has accessibility resources:

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