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MONUMENTAL ENDEAVOR: THOMAS HIRSCHHORN’S GRAMSCI MONUMENT

Thomas Hirschhorn, Gramsci Monument, 2013, Forest Houses, Bronx, New York. Photo: Romain Lopez. All works by Thomas Hirschhorn © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris.

THIS PAST JUNE, a sprawling, jerry-built plywood protrusion sprang up in the middle of a South Bronx housing project with the suddenness of a mushroom patch after a spring rain. Residents of the Forest Houses must surely have wondered where this “monument” to Italian Communist philosopher Antonio Gramsci had come from, what it was doing in their neighborhood, what to think of the profusion of philosophy lectures, poetry readings, performances, radio shows, and art workshops the structure would host from its opening on July 1 to its closing on September 15, and, most of all, what exactly to make of its creator, the cartoonishly bespectacled, internationally renowned Swiss artist THOMAS HIRSCHHORN, who had descended on the Forest Houses as if from outer space and remained a daily presence throughout this artwork-cum-community-center’s ephemeral existence, only to vanish with the

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