Peaceful Occupation of Controversial Art Basel “Favellas” Met with Resistance: June 14, 2013

At 10:05pm on Friday, June 14th in a police action attempting to shut down a gathering of 150 people or so who came together over the course of the day to peacefully “occupy” a highly controversial artwork by Tadashi Kawamata entitled Favela Café (2013), Christian (footage holder and gallerist currently showing within this year’s Volta program) along with others were fired at by tear gas and rubber bullets outside of Art Basel’s Main Halls. The work itself, which serves expensive coffee, pastries and cold cut sandwiches to Art World/Fair goers was erected this year as part of a commissioned installation project by Art Basel for Messeplatz, the main square within the annual fair and grounds contested as public space. After the Fair doors close on June 16, Art Basel is planning to ‘donate’ the structure for use as a bar and restaurant with a community garden.

It seems clear that discussions are necessary at this time to begin unpacking and addressing issues instigated by the work itself, its context, the lack of open criticality, the type of resistance and use of force we see so systematically/forumulaically regardless of what these public spaces are, where they happen to exist and what they represent.


Tadashi Kawamata | Favela Café, 2013. Art Basel 2013 | Tadashi Kawamata | Favela Café, 2013. MCH Messe Schweiz (Basel) AG. Courtesy of Art Basel.


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