Artist Sues Over Destruction of "Cheese Wall" Along Mexico Border

The United States-Mexico border wall
SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP via Getty Images

The United States-Mexico border is the scene of an unusual court fight between an artist and the government contractor building Trump's wall. On Wednesday, Cosimo Cavallaro filed suit in California federal court over the destruction of his "Cheese Wall."

According to the complaint, Cavallaro specializes in art using perishable materials and his pieces have been exhibited in galleries worldwide. His "Cheese Wall," according to the complaint, was conceptualized "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. He planned to build a 1,000-foot wall out of blocks of cheese near the government’s border wall. Cavallaro hoped that his work would highlight the perils of sunk cost fallacy at all levels."

In March 2019, work began in San Diego and reached almost 70 feet long. (See picture.) It got attention in the media and on television including The Late Late Show With James Corden.

But then SLSCO, which is building the real wall, got involved.

"On information and belief, on or about October 2019, Defendants or their employees and agents knowingly and willfully trespassed onto the site and destroyed the Cheese Wall," states the complaint, later adding, "The destruction of the Cheese Wall has caused great distress to Cavallaro. His artistic vision has been left unfulfilled. Cavallaro has been 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."

He's now claiming a violation of the Visual Artists Rights Act as well as conversion, private nuisance and trespass. He's being represented by attorneys at Munger, Tolles, a prestigious law firm that has many Hollywood clients.

The Visual Artists Rights Act affords artists a right of integrity to their works and has been used by street artists over the destruction of graffiti including, perhaps most famously, 5Pointz in New York.

Here's the full complaint.