Thomas Hirschhorn is apparently a famous contemporary Swiss artist: his works are exhibited at MoMA as well as at Tate Modern, plus obviously many other minor but equally important cultural meccas around the world.
He had this vision of bringing some culture and cultural turmoil to one of the less intellectual area of New York City: the Bronx.
When wandering around the area, scouting for the location of his new project, locals simply thought he was a priest or an eccentric rich gentleman. Indeed, Mr. Hirschhorn’s only concern was not about his look, rather about being taken seriously. After attending many housing projects all around NYC, he eventually picked the Forest Houses project in the Morrisania section of the South Bronx.
A house has been built in the past few weeks, the Gramsci Monument, and will serve as cultural centre that will animate the summer in this part of the city far form the fanciness of Manhattan.
A well known Marxist philosopher, Gramsci believed in the power of culture and education to free the “oppressed”. And this seems to be in line with Mr. Hirschhorn’s philosophy. He told the NY Times:
“I tell them, ‘This is not to serve your community, per se, but it is to serve art, and my reasons for wanting to do these things are purely personal artistic reasons. My goal or my dream is not so much about changing the situation of the people who help me, but about showing the power of art to make people think about issues they otherwise wouldn’t have thought about.”
So Artemporary. So mind-freeing. So simple yet powerful. Love it!
Mr. Randy Kennedy has written a beautiful article on the NY Times. A reading I highly recommend.