Paris's Beloved, Legal Artist Squatter Community in Peril

A stand-off with the city could cost Paris one of its most-visited bastions of Bohemianism.

Image
Reuters

Paris is a city that loves its starving artists. But a stand-off could cost the city one of its most-visited bastions of Bohemianism (and contemporary art).

"Aftersquat" is the name of an artist collective that started in 1999, when a band of wandering artists broke into an empty bank building and began squatting. According to Reuters:

After a long legal squabble, during which time the artists become a curiosity for passers-by and tourists, a deal with Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe saw the building bought by the city a decade ago and rented back to the artists.

Right now, about 30 painters and sculptures work there -- some hailing from as far as America or Japan. The public is free to wander in and out of the six floors at will.

But city officials have asked the collective to cut of number of artists who work there full time 20 down to 15. That would leave 15 spots for visiting artists, who "rent out" space on a one-year basis. City officials say this will increase the number of creatives who pass through. 

But the artists claim the move will hamper their ability to build a close-knit community. "When you think of Paris you think of a cultural city," artist Eve Tesorio told Reuters. "It's that which shouldn't just be a facade."

A view shows the entrance of the 59 Rivoli "aftersquat" building in Paris.

(Jacky Naegelen/Reuters)

Italian artist Lugi De la Feria works in his workshop at the 59 Rivoli "aftersquat" in Paris. (Jacky Naegelen/Reuters)
A view of painted frescoes along the stairs at the 59 Rivoli "aftersquat" in Paris. (Jacky Naegelen/Reuters)
French artist Francesco works in his workshop at the 59 Rivoli "aftersquat." (Jacky Naegelen/Reuters)

About the Author

  • Amanda Erickson is a former senior associate editor at CityLab.