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Clash at Art Basel: Police Forcibly Evict Protestors from Tadashi Kawamata’s Art Favela

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BASEL – Occupiers at Art Basel had a rough encounter with the local police force on Friday night. After having taken over Tadashi Kawamata’s Art Favela, a village of concession shacks installed in front of the fair’s main entrance, a group of about 100 partying protesters were evicted by armored Basel police (see video below). According to a spokesperson, the group, which included a donkey, wanted to underline the decadence of including a slum setting as part of one the world’s biggest art fairs.

According to the local newspaper Basellandschaftliche Zeitung, the raid escalated to something of a street fight with protesters tossing debris at the police officers who in turn applied excessive amounts of tear gas in order to gain control over the situation. By Saturday morning the scene was cleared and most Art Basel visitors would only have noticed scattered remnants from the tumultuous scenes the night before.

In the local press, however, questions remained about who to hold responsible for the incident’s relatively violent end. In an interview with the Basler Zeitung newspaper, Baschi Dürr, director of the Basel police, pointed out that the police had been called by the art fairs organizers after the protestors — who had also added impromptu huts of their own to Kawamata’s favela — had refused to leave the premises or turn down the music blasting out of their large PA system. Asked whether the use of tear gas was an appropriate measure, Dürr stated that though he personally felt “a certain sympathy for the artificial favela,” the police officers had to defend themselves, after having been attacked with chairs. Dürr also pointed out that previous attempts to end the situation via negotiations had failed.

See video of the eviction:

Lisa Contag

(Image: video still.)

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  1. This is so hilariously illustrative of the art world’s delusions about the realities of money and power and its own relationship to them that it is almost touching.

    Where is Christopher Guest when you need him — or for that matter Chris Burden?

  2. another evidence of how pretentious the art world is. What are the implications of turning the favelas into mere aesthetics to be enjoyed by the privileged art lovers? this is so shallow of Kawamata. and it is exemplary of the formula for the contemporary art today: a bit of provocative politics served to the enjoyment of the art public.

  3. Nothing like a good dose of reality to clear one’s mind of left wing romantic fantasies. And who better to deliver that medicine than a left wing group of anarchists/occupiers?

  4. This is the issue of the ownership and property for which many of similar protests often have blatant disregard. They would not liked if their neighbours forcibly came to their houses to party and make some changes to the interior. Regardless of how the protesters felt about the appropriateness of the installation or irony of it, this is not a way to handle it in the civilized society. They could have protested in many other ways to get the message across. It is sad that these types of actions are still the fastest way to get the public’s attention.

  5. geralmente, nas favelas do terceiro mundo o que acontece é isso mesmo, a polícia chega atirando e acabando com tudo, como se todos fossem lixo e ninguém tivesse direitos a serem respeitados. conseguiram mimetizar muito bem o que ocorre nos morros ou nas ocupações ilegais quando a força do Estado se faz presente, na maioria das vezes de forma repressiva e truculenta.

  6. はっきり言ってどうでもいいようなオンラインサイトの日本人記者の方は、”…川俣の作品は、既成の高価な美術品売買の世界に、「一過性」や「リサイクル性」を持ち込んで、少し切り込んだように見えるが、それをさらに批判する人がいたというおもしろさがここにはある” だって。(

    ”おもしろさ”?? そんな呑気なことですか。世界の反応よく見てください。私は日本大好きだけどこの種のナイーブさには本当に閉口。実際の記事の方にもコメントしたけれど記載されないみたいなので。川俣氏ご本人のコメント楽しみに待っています。

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