Monthly Archives: October 2013

Being Heard at Forest Houses in the Bronx

Originally published in NYCInfocus

Thomas Hirschhorn's Gramsci Monument in Forest Houses, South Bronx, Photo by Sumi Naidoo/NYCInfocus

Thomas Hirschhorn’s Gramsci Monument in Forest Houses, South Bronx. Photo by Sumi Naidoo/NYCInfocus

At open mic Sundays, residents of Forest Houses in the Bronx crowd onto the Antonio Lounge’s homemade stage. Some belt out Aretha ballads and rap songs. Others listen and clap their hands. DJ Baby Dee, a retired public servant named Harry Drake, emcees here seven days a week and artfully segues from live performances to remixed recordings of the Jackson 5. In a wooden shack behind the lounge, a state-of-the-art music studio streams the program out to the world.

So goes a typical weekend at Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn’s Gramsci Monument – a temporary structure of connecting plywood rooms, dedicated to honoring the life and theories of Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci. Since June, Hirschhorn, supported by the Dia Art Foundation, has run a library, museum, computer room, radio station, bodega and newspaper press from the grounds of a public housing development in the South Bronx under the watchful eye of an ever-present police patrol car.

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