We are in Havana, Cuba, and there’s a mysterious brass statue in Plaza Vieja: A woman sits atop her big, feathery mount, her voluptuous form completely naked except for the stilettos on her feet. A massive forks rests on her right shoulder. And the rooster, ever so stoic, gazes ahead.
No one knows the meaning behind the unusual sculpture. Its name is “Viaje Fantástico”, so perhaps the woman heading off on an adventure to some sort of nudist dinner party? Or, as some online theories speculate, could it have a more sexual connotation given the rooster’s association with male genitalia? Or, maybe, is it just a creation of the sculptor’s imagination and has no greater symbolism at all?
Locals have suggested the sculpture is meant as a tribute to the long history of prostitution in Havana. The nude woman is earning her meals, symbolized with fork and chicken, by selling herself. Yet, she is unabashed by this behavior, as seen in the defiant look on her face, and in fact the women saving their families, they never were not looked down on.
According to local sources, sometimes, when a Cuban woman is alone and poor, she is told to “find a gallo” a rooster, what we would call this a “sugar daddy”. If this is true, the sculpture would represent women who have to resort to the world’s oldest profession in order to feed their families and the rooster would be, of course, the man paying for her services. To support this theory, still today, the divorce rate in Cuba is apparently very high, so there are a lot of single parent (female) families.
In addition, historically, this plaza was originally the slave market and, as in almost all countries, the rooster is a symbol for a cock, a penis. When the USSR abandoned Cuba they lost all the incoming funds and the moms in the less well-off families, in many cases, became prostitutes.
In any case, what is certain, is that contemporary cuban artist Roberto Fabelo (born 1951 Camagüey, Cuba) installed the piece of art in Plaza Vieja in 2012 without explanation or any context and the artist, who won the country’s 2004 National Arts Award, frequently features nude women with birdlike appearances in his work…