ENGL111W “The Gramsci Monument”
Lecture #7 Notes
“THE GRAMSCI MONUMENT”
— Antonia Gramsci was a 20th century Italian Marxist thinker who wrote his books while in prison. His most inﬂuential idea is
that “hegemony” = the idea that those in power use cultural institutions and ideology to maintain power. The “hegemonic”
power in society uses culture to make its own value seem “common sense” and “natural.”
THOMAS HIRSHHORN “THE GRAMSCI MONUMENT”
— The Idea = his idea was to build this public art space where people could share art ideas, culture, food and art with each other
and build a sense of community. This idea occurred in a community park in the Bronx in New York City.
— Ideas can be a counter culture as opposed to cultural ideas. His idea was to build cultural space with hegemonic values to
body a counter culture. He opened it in the projects to bring people together. He incorporated the residence and the individuals
living in the community, by giving them jobs and a chance to be include, to bring his “art project” as he calls it to life. His “art”
became a place of community (sort of like a “community centre”.
— His “art” included a library, an art studio, a smoothie bar, an open kitchen, grafﬁti room, etc. It acted as a Utopia, where the
community came up with ideas and basically built their own idea of utopia; it was a community within another community.
— Projects = are public housing projects to help with poverty and build subsidized housing, but this aided segregation (the poor
are separate from the rich) (high number of African americans (black people) live in the projects and this comes into play in
society as a racial and cultural bias). The projects started out as an idea that was topic and helpful to the community, but over
time it has become a place of crime, drug dealing and poverty. The “projects” then act as a border, aiding segregation. There are
positive and negatives to living the project, Moten outweighs these pros and cons throughout his poem.
A POEM: FRED MOTEN “THE GRAMSCI MONUMENT”
— In his poem Moten plays with the various meanings of the word “project”. He ﬁnds,hidden in the word as it were, positive
and negative, celebratory and mournful responses
— On the other hand, to have a “project” to work on, is the “project” of yourself. Your life, your experiences, your culture and
your independence is your “project.”
THE PARADOXES OF VALUE AND BEING VALUED
— In fact, these different possibilities in the “projects” are entwined with each other throughout the poem. The main example
and fundamental idea being that history is a messy, complex and contradictory concept.
— QUOTE: “we the project they stole, we steal/ the project back” = Your project can be your life, let’s take the life that was
taken away from you back. —
QUOTE: “Let’s bust the project up. Let solve the project” = Moten states some contradictory statements to prove his point that
there are negatives and positives of living in the projects. —
QUOTE: “We violate the auction block”-“we pirates of ourselves and others.” The auction block is all of this incredible
residence of african-american people, they realize that the auction block moment is iconic as it alludes to slavery. These are
moments of horror and long-lasting post traumatic stress that has been handed down generation to generation. He states that we
have to act as “pirates” and steal our lives back for ourselves and for our people.
A POEM: “MAKE AMERICAN GREAT AGAIN”
— American was founded on an IDEA, it was not built by individuals who were natives to the country and decided to build a
nation, it was colonized by others who wanted to turn it into a sort of UTOPIAN SOCIETY (based on the “American Dream.”