In 1999, a ragtag group of artsy vagabond-types broke into an abandoned Paris bank building and claimed it as home, founding what The Atlantic Cities calls one of the city's most-visited "bastions of Bohemianism." Since then, the Aftersquat, a building that has been muraled, paint-splattered, and spangled within an inch of its life, has become a 30-person (or so) collective of international artists that live together in the now government-owned space. A decade ago, the city bought the forsaken six-story structure and started renting it back to its occupants, and now officials are posting new rules, including starting up a strict timetable meant to increase artist turnover, allowing for greater efficiency and better living conditions—which sort of sounds like somebody's missing the point.
? The entrance of the Aftersquat at 59 Rivoli in Paris, with colorful scribbled doors that look something like an Easter egg. The "aftersquatters" say the new changes stifle artistry and undermine the untethered spirit of the place, which, open and free to the public, has become quite a highlight for Paris tourism. "It's a numbers game—they want to say more artists come here, but artists are capable of better things when they have investment in a place," Gaspard Delanoe, a founder of the original squat, told Reuters.
Others worry that the Aftersquat and its funky, heavily frescoed interiors will quickly turn into a false spectacle. "When you think of Paris you think of a cultural city," French artist Eve Tesorio told Reuters. "It's that which shouldn't just be a façade." If the occupants refuse to participate by the time their lease is up for renewal at the end of May, they forfeit all authority to be there, becoming true squatters once more. Let the legal rumpus begin!
· Paris's Beloved, Legal Artist Squatter Community in Peril [The Atlantic Cities]
· Paris squat artists see red as community spirit in peril [Reuters]