The Bronx Now Has a Monument to Antonio Gramsci

Have you ever walked through a public housing complex and exclaimed, “Geez, after all the years of city neglect, rampant mold, bedbugs, and a gross indifference to the gaping hole in my ceiling, we could really use a monument to some long-dead Marxist.”

That’s pretty much what Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn said when he showed up to New York City, sat in on a bunch of public housing resident meetings, and decided to set up shop at the Forest Houses in the Bronx to build a monument to Antonio Gramsci. Gramsi was an Italian Marxist who is most famous for his writings in the “Prison Notebooks.”

gramsci monument
Gramsci monument in the Bronx

The New York Times reports:

Handmade from plywood, plexiglass and miles of beige packing tape — one of Mr. Hirschhorn’s signature art supplies — the Gramsci Monument bears no resemblance whatsoever to the cenotaphs and glowering statues that dot the rest of New York. And it doesn’t look much like an artwork, either. It looks more, in fact, like an adult treehouse or a makeshift beach cabana or a chunk of set hijacked from the Kevin Costner film “Waterworld.”

While I was initially critical of some fancy-pants artists coming into a low-income community and paying its resident a measley $12 an hour to build a monument under an artist they’ve never heard, the monument does provide a public space for community members to come, interact and host cultural events. So evil gentrification? Maybe. Awesome community building project? Also maybe.

The monument is temporary, and will be up for 3 months.

Hirschhorn has previously made monuments of Deleuze, Spinoza, and Batailles.

Deleuze monument
Hirschhorn’s Deleuze monument in Avignon.
Spinoza monument
Hirschhorn’s Spinoza monument in Amsterdam.

You can learn more about the monument on its hideous burns-your-eyes website.

[Via WorldCrunch]

  • afroblazingguns

    How ya’ll know whether or not they know who Gramsci is?

    • Suzanne Adely

      good question.

  • randy

    I had the same thought… really fucked up assumption that just because you’re a low-waged worker you don’t know Gramsci

    • Critical Theory

      It was actually a misreading of this line from the NYT article, the correction will be made:

      “Neither Mr. Farmer nor many of the people who attended these meetings had ever heard of the man, Thomas Hirschhorn, a 56-year-old Swiss artist with a huge international following. But Mr. Hirschhorn wasn’t interested in trading on his reputation.”

      • afroblazingguns

        Ahh. Thanks for the clarification.

        • Critical Theory

          Yeah, as a frequent critic of the classist bullshit Marxists pull that would have been a bit embarrassing.

          Thanks for calling us out!

  • Rowan

    That isn’t his Spinoza monument pictured. And the work will clearly have social value — I heard Erik Farmer, president of the residents association talk very positively about it — but in any case, art isn’t meant to fix holes in the ceiling and you’re doing the residents of Forest Houses a disservice by assuming they don’t need or want art (and, for example, weekly talks by a world-class roster of scholars) in their neighbourhood.