Thomas Hirschhorn’s The Gramsci Monument stood for 77 days on a green in the Forest Houses public housing in the Bronx. Under Hirschhorn’s direction, the residents of the Forest Houses built and staffed this project, and the Dia Foundation paid for the materials and salaries. This triangulation of interest, commitment, and enthusiasm resulted in a social club more than a monument. Hirschhorn designed the functional plywood structure of two bunkhouses connected by a footbridge. On the surface, it looked flimsy, like it was constructed with brown packaging tape. However, the building was quite solid, containing a library, an Internet room, a radio station, a newsroom, a café, an art room, and lecture hall. Every day was programming provided by artists and philosophers performing, discussing, and answering questions on various ideas about art, democracy, and freedom, and anything relevant.
This is Thomas Hirschhorn’s fourth monument to philosophers who are his ‘heroes.’ Antonio Gramsci was an early 20th century Italian Marxist. According to Hirschhorn, Gramsci’s writings are the intersection of ‘love and politics.’ Many quotes from Gramsci’s diaries like “Every human being is an intellectual” are spray painted throughout, One remarkable result of Hirschhorn’s optimism and belief, an art foundation’s sheparding, and a housing project’s invitation and courage is a dismantling of a singular cultural hegemony.