Born in 1953 on the Japanese island of Hokaido, Tadashi Kawamata is famous for his in situ interventions, assembled from, among other things, wooden planks, chairs and barrels. Whether built up into fragile, Babylonian constructions (Cathedral of chairs, the Pommery vineyard, 2007), or stretched out to form serpentine walkways (the Alkmaar Polders, 1997), his works offer, to those who climb up onto them or set foot on them, another point of view — in every sense — over the place in which they are situated (The Observatory in Lavau-sur-Loire in 2007, and in Evreux in 2000). However, some of his more recent installations do not allow direct access to the visitor.
For Art Basel 2007, the artist created a small wooden cabin wrapped around a giant pylon, in front of the building that houses the international art fair. Contrasting dramatically with the surrounding modernist buildings, it was a poetic and ironic statement. Reminiscent, simultaneously, of an archaic tribal hut, a homeless person’s precarious shelter and a dovecote, its position, perched up high, seemed an invitation to loftier thoughts. In what is, ultimately, the violent and competitive context of any contemporary art fair, the cabin placed its hypothetical Lilliputian inhabitants out of the reach of all predators. Evocative of childhood games, the cabin appears as a metaphor for an oblivious refuge that allows us to escape the world’s bustle and rediscover a certain inner peace.