The Invisible Monument
Maria Cienfuegos travels the Cuban countryside taking photographs of long-forgotten monuments. She has spent her photography career investigating the overlooked tales of her island’s history. She’s interested in finding the untold stories of lovers and unremarkable tales of families and farms.
As she travels the countryside sifting through the artifacts of forgotten Cuban life, she often stumbles upon old monuments sitting in alone in fields or along the side of the road. If you drive roads far outside Havana, you see them in the most unlikely of places–on a long stretch of a country byway or standing in an open field, forgotten memorials to forgotten memories.
Often, Maria comes across crumbling concrete obelisks whose plaques have been washed away by neglect. She longs to tell the stories of the person or event they represent. Many times, she has to search out answers when the evidence of the event is no longer present.
Once, when out in the field, she asked a woman about the history of an unmarked monument. The woman, who had lived near the memorial all her life, didn’t know. On the horizon, they saw an old man on a horse approaching them. “He is an old-timer,” she said. “He will know.” When his horse pulled up next to obelisk and Maria asked him about it, the old man looked around. Confused by the question, he asked, “What monument?”
The memorial was there—right next to him—but he couldn’t see it. It had been a part of the landscape for so long that it had become invisible to him.
What is part of your interior landscape that you can no longer see?