In the middle of Campo de' Fiori in Rome hovering over the market stands a statue of a man, the hood of his robe pulled over his bowed head as he surveys the activity below. The inscription on the base of the statue reads:
IL SECOLO DA LUI DIVINATO
DOVE IL ROGO ARSE
(for Bruno – from the age he predicted here, where the fire burned)
This was Giordano Bruno, Italian philosopher and former Dominican monk, who was burned at the stake for heresy on February 17, 1600 on the spot where the statue now stands guard. He believed the universe was infinite and held the possibility of multiple galaxies and multiple solar systems. He protested the social and moral corruption of the time, and eventually ran afoul of the Roman Inquisition. His thoughts and words remain potent – even more so in today's political climate. On February 17, 2019 to mark the anniversary of his death I did a small performance in Rome. I burned some of his writings, and then knelt to sweep up the ashes.