Date of Award
Master of Arts in Art History
This paper will analyze Thomas Hirschhorn’s Gramsci Monument, examining the level of collaboration which took place among the participating community members. The Gramsci Monument is an artwork that took place in 2013 in the Forest Houses projects in the Bronx, New York. It was an artwork that functioned as a temporary community center, providing different facilities such as a library, radio station, computer lab, newspaper center, and art studio to local residents. Hirschhorn hired a team of residents to build this monument, which was made of everyday materials like plywood, recycled wood pallets, packing tape, and cardboard. While the artwork provided facilities and resources to the residents in the Forest Houses community, Hirschhorn made it clear that this was a work of art, not a community center. Hirschhorn’s mission was to show the residents the power of art and to create a new type of monument, a less permanent one. This unconventional monument is dedicated to Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Marxist philosopher, who was imprisoned in the early 1900’s for his beliefs. One of Gramsci’s central ideas was that every person is an intellectual. Gramsci meant that all people should be treated as intellectuals, with dignity and opportunity. While this idea was celebrated in Hirschhorn’s monument, this paper argues that it, as well as other Gramscian ideals, could have been more authentically practiced if Hirschhorn had been willing to collaborate. Although he worked with others, Hirschhorn makes it clear that this is not a collaboration, but instead a “coexistence.” The community members that worked on this monument did not provide their own ideas and did not have much authorship in the creation of this artwork. Collaborating, and allowing the residents more authorship, would better celebrate the Gramscian idea that every person is an intellectual.
March, Ryan, "Never a Complete Success, Never a Complete Failure: Thomas Hirschhorn’s Commemoration of Antonio Gramsci" (2022). Theses. 133.