Good news: part of the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico has been torn down! Bad news: it was the part of the wall that was made of cheese. Also, it was an art installation, and the people who destroyed it were from the construction company building the real border wall. So, in true 2020 fashion, this was more bad news than good. Sorry, everyone.
The late cheese wall was built by Cosimo Cavallaro, an Italian-Canadian artist noted for sculptures made from perishable materials—like ham on a bed, a giant anatomically correct chocolate Jesus, and multiple cheese-centric works—meant to highlight what he calls “the absurdity of effort, waste and decay.” In March of 2019 he began work on a sculptural installation called Cheese Wall on a tract of private property he had leased in San Diego County. Using blocks of expired Cotija cheese, Cavallaro planned to build a wall that stretched 1,000 feet along the U.S./Mexico border. Seventy feet of the wall was built before it was destroyed by construction company SLSCO Ltd., which had been hired by the government to fortify the current non-dairy border wall. Now, Bloomberg Law reports that Cavallero is suing the construction company, filing a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California that states he was wrongfully “deprived of the opportunity to communicate his artistic message through the Cheese Wall—a message he has spent years contemplating—and to see the Cheese Wall, at its full length, stand in contrast to the border wall.”
According to the complaint, while Cavallero was out of town on a break from construction, an employee for Ultimate Concrete—a SLSCO subcontractor—contacted him to ask if he’d like the wall removed. Cavallaro said no, but when he returned to the site the following month to resume work, the wall had been completely destroyed, its rubble surrounded by tire tracks from the demolition machinery that wiped the beauty of Cheese Wall from the earth. Adding insult to injury, metal slats for the border wall were dumped on the site, despite the fact the land, according to the complaint, is “private property that neither SLSCO, Ultimate Concrete, nor the government had permission to access.”
Cavallaro and his lawyers charge that SLSCO and Ultimate Concrete’s alleged destruction of Cheese Wall is a violation of the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990.
“I don’t like walls,” Cavallaro said in a 2019 interview on MSNBC. “This is a wall that I can handle, that I’m willing to live with. This wall is perishable, it will not last.”