Trials & Litigation

Artist sues federal contractors over removal of his cheese border wall

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Los Angeles artist Cosimo Cavallaro has filed a lawsuit over the removal of his artistic rendering of a border wall he made from hard cheese.

The federal lawsuit, filed Tuesday against the federal contractors that destroyed his cheese wall, alleges violation of the Visual Artists Rights Act. Courthouse News Service has coverage.

Cavallaro built his cheese wall on private property he rented 10 yards from an access road to the border wall. According to his suit, the cheese structure was intended “to encourage people to think of the ‘Trump wall’ differently by considering the ephemerality of walls and the waste inherent in building any wall, whether made of cheese or steel.”

By August 2019, Cavallaro’s wall was about 6 feet tall, 3 feet wide and nearly 70 feet long. It was made up of 50-pound bricks of Cotija cheese that Cavallaro made himself. He had planned to create bronze casts of the cheese blocks for display in museums or galleries around the world.

Cavallaro discovered his cheese wall had been completely destroyed in November 2019. Cavallaro says the wall did not obstruct access to President Donald Trump’s border wall.

Cavallaro’s reliance on the Visual Artists Rights Act follows its successful use in a suit by graffiti artists who sued a building owner for painting over their artwork. The law gives artists the right to attribution and integrity of visual works of recognized stature.

Cavallaro’s suit also alleges the destruction amounted to a private nuisance, conversion of Cavallaro’s ownership rights and trespass.

Cavallaro has been working with perishable materials since 1995, and cheese is one of his favorites. In the past, he has covered a chair, a hotel room, a house and the supermodel Twiggy in melted cheese.

He is represented in the cheese wall lawsuit by Munger, Tolles & Olson.

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