Life imitates art: Swiss police brutally crack down on squatters who inhabit fake "art favela"

Richard sez, "The Swiss riot police have taken a page out of the Turkish authorities' book. After occupiers ('critics'?) responded to the 'irony' of Tadashi Kawamata's cafe/boutique in the form of a favela by occupying it, moving in and throwing a down-home favela house party, the Swiss police forcibly evicted them from the art installation using real, unironic tear gas and batons."

Polizei räumt Favelabesetzung auf dem Messeplatz


  1. For the–surely miniscule!–portion of BoingBoing readers who aren’t English/Portuguese bilingual, this article makes slightly more sense if you know that “favela” means “shantytown”.

    1. I don’t speak Portuguese, and Favela is not a Spanish word, but I have seen it used in English for a very long time.

      1. Given that Fast Five took place in a favela, I’m pretty sure that the word is now known in the US.

  2. As soon as I saw the words Swiss police I was prepared for what came next. On my only visit to Switzerland my ex-wife and I travelled up into the Alps and opened our picnic lunch on a grassy hill within sight of the quaint local train station. Half way through our first mouthful we heard shouts from the station and could see the railway porter gesticulating wildly for us to come down from the hillside. Upon arrival we were asked the question ‘Do you think we grow our beautiful green grass for you ugly Americans to sit on?’
    My wife pointed out that we were in fact English to which the inevitable answer came ‘Even worse!’
    I can’t remember her reply to this statement but I do remember it provoking him to raise his hand to her! I politely told him that if he didn’t put it down I would call the police… to which he replied ‘the police will be on my side!’

    I knew there and then that he was right. If that was what a station porter was like I guessed a cop would be x10.

      1.  Heh. One shity conductor as told to you by a stranger on the internet and you write off the whole country. Impressive.

        Anyway, I’d be interested to hear where in Switzerland that was, it is 3 very distinct regions and I’d have to guess that was in the French speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived in the German speaking part of Switzerland for 6 years I have never had any experience even close to that and I actually am an ugly American.

        1. Heh… one flippant remark on a website…  

          To be honest, it’s not one of the countries I’ve had a burning desire to visit (really it’s less anything about the police there than it just seeming like too much of a vacation hotspot for me). I’m actually more interested in visiting Finland sometime.

          But if you’re offering to put me up, by all means I’ll visit! 

          (I’m trying to type with my not-so-serious-voice more clearly. Is it working?)

          1. Ok, seemed like a little to little to just write the whole place off :)
            Switzerland is super beautiful countryside and mountains, not much else.

      2. I went to Japan and they wouldn’t let me sit on a park bench.
        A bench!
        And they were all rude and poked me with a stick.

  3. I love how the police slink back into that hole in the anonymous black wall at the end. It’s like the Morlocks returning to their caverns.

    1. In all sympathy with the artistic expression, there are other laws you have to observe. Like the one about noisy nightly disturbances. Everybody is equal before that law. You can get a permit. If you don’t have a permit, you’ll have to stop it. If you don’t stop it, then the police will make you stop it. I can explain to you how that works:

      1) Neighbor calls police about noisy nightly disturbance.
      2) Police show up and ask owner of the premises about it and that they should stop it.
      3) Owner of premises fails to do anything about it.
      4) Police solve the problem.

      I have been on the receiving end of that law. I have also been on the other end of it. It’s not a bad law. The exact behavior of police may be quite questionable, but there where (apparently) quite peaceful attempts to resolve the problem. I’m pretty sure nobody would’ve minded if they didn’t insist on creating a lot of noise.

      1. Danke Florian. How many nights were they partying before the police were called in? Seems to me the shame is that they didn’t have a proper Baile Funk party. :-)

      2. Regardless of any laws, how can anyone justify the violence and unnecessary force used to break up the gathering?

        1. You don’t justify it. Like I say, the methods may be quite questionable. On the other hand there where (apparently) quite peaceful attempts to get them to stop making noise and leave the premises.

          Police is always a blunt instrument. And if you fail to accomodate yourself with your neighbors, tennants or simply common law persistently enough, you will bring the police to bear on you. There’s plenty of ways you can avoid that. If a neighbor calls in police they usually, as a first question, ask you if you asked them to stop making noise.

  4. Artistically, something quite interesting happened here.
    People like Kawamata & Scheidegger are using their staple “provocations” as if they’re just another brush or chisel out of the ol’ artistic toolbox. 
    But when it actually works for once – when someone *does* get provoked – then no one involved is equipped or prepaired to actually deal with the reactions in a good way.

  5. I think you all don’t understand this. My home town just has a serious dedication to performance art!

    If any flaw may be critisised on the performance, it would be that it wasn’t properly advertised so one could enjoy it by showing up at the right place and time.

  6. When I had read about “police brutality” I expected to see something quite different than a handful of cops forcibly unplugging the source of noise and then drawing back. It seems nobody’s been arrested (and don’t tell me few of the “performers” didn’t deserve it for throwing things on cops), nobody’s been kicked down and beaten laying on the floor.
    As for the reasons for the intervention, read the Florian’s comments above.

  7. I happen live about 5 minutes away from where this happened. Let me assure you that nobody lives near the place – it’s the Basel fair ground and it’s half public (rentend from the city). Usually expensive watches and expensive art are sold here to mostly international clients. Locals only distract from business – big business at that. Basel airport is filled with private jets around this part of the year…

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