In 2013, the artist Thomas Hirschhorn constructed a monument dedicated to the philosopher Antonio Gramsci in the South Bronx. Unlike most monuments which are made of inert stone or metal and meant to endure, Hirschhorn’s monument was designed to be temporary, to be taken down and to interact strongly with community. Inspired by this work, students in Sarah Gambito's Writer in New York creative writing workshop designed monument projects that articulated the values/people/events that they deemed most important. Here are two representative projects.
Dylan Hollingsworth: Nude Lipz
To me, black voices are music.
I need those voices. In all their variations.
It's that impenetrable street banter you hear when you walk pass the dope boys
It's that loving firmness you hear after you see a mother pop her little one in public
It's the crunchy melody that plays when the middle schoolers eat their flaming hots
with cheese and ground beef
It's the hissing and sucking of teeth you hear when a tender headed little girl is
conquered by a heavy handed hair braider
It's the pure agony that you hear in a grandmother's cry for God to bring her baby
Another taken by the police
Either systemically or permanently
Gone too soon
It's that inimitable soul you hear in the voice of a black woman singing her truth
And she will not be silenced
Strange Fruit - Billy Holiday
The Corner - Common
Children's Story - Slick Rick
Seigfried - Frank Ocean
All I Got - Amel Larrieux
Neighbors - J. Cole
DNA - Kendrick Lamar
Mad - Solange
Never Let Me Down - Kanye West ft. Jay Z & J Ivy
We Don't Care - Kanye West
Casket Pretty - Noname
Aquemini - Outkast
REVOFEV - Kid Cudi
Thus this monument honors the blossoming of black voices
Just as flowers bloom in spring.
Big and small
Supple and wrinkled
"Masculine" and "feminine"
Loud and reserved.
To force Black visibility onto White campuses
And to remind
Black students, faculty, and staff
Who, too often, are misunderstood, misrepresented
And made to bear a heavy burden
That they belong there.
Jessica Mannino: The Curve
“The Curve” is an art installation in Central Park that aims to reinvigorate a deep, insatiable love for New York City through mediums of poetry, prose, and photography. The installation will deeply draw upon art as a catalyst for creative thought beyond the bounds of the exhibition. It will stand for a brief period of time to marry arbitrary works of poets and photographers from various time periods, contexts, neighborhoods, boroughs, and socioeconomic standings to show how the fluidity and timelessness of art can make the experience of the city relevant and accessible to anyone, at any time. Its brief presence in New York will be symbolic of just how rare and beautiful the city is to grasp. Defying time and place liberates the art to exist within several contexts at once, perhaps speaking to many at a time. The transient nature will impart a sense of urgency within the community and naturally warrant attention. The main focus of the art across all mediums is the experiences of a NY native. The location, Central park, is critical, in that in it’s open, malleable surface area provides the perfect platform. While NYC is traditionally comprised of the squares, the circles, (Herald Square, Times Square, Washington Square, Columbus Circle), the park’s refreshing “nature,” so to speak, will engage this symbolic installation in a way that no other landmark could. The images on the curve, as well as the texts, will be transposable and alter daily, a symbolic nod to the malleable, fluid, and interchangeable potential of the interaction between art and city. These changes will also instill a sense of urgency, as no experience will be the same, but each will be unique and important in it’s own way - much the same in the way we all experience the city daily. The curve, or “infinity sign,” rich with symbolism, relevance, and just the right dose of cliché, will be the perfect emblem to represent how the city is forever in motion. This monument will offer a new spectrum of meaning to those visiting NYC for the first time, or even simply seeking art in their daily, hectic city lives. While the works showcased will predominately be art of professionals, there will be an opportunity for prospective artist contributions. Providing an outlet for incentivized participation will be a great way to engage the community in a fashion that particularly resonates with our generation. While the physical monument will come to an end, it is my hope that the impact will transcend the contained exhibition and manifest in different artistic renderings throughout the city – perhaps subway art, an online page, sharable stickers, etc. All in all, it is my hope that “The Curve” will be an exhibit that gets people excited to be a New Yorker, a subliminal lesson in history and art that sparks a dialogue between the most renowned works of city life. It will be an amazing opportunity to defy context, experience culture, and experiment with art in a unique, accessible manner.