Thomas Hirschhorn, Hotel Democarcy, 2003, installed in Art Unlimited, Art Basel. Photos: James Westcott
Thomas Hirschhorn’s idea of a hotel is a more violent clash of the private and the public. His Hotel Democracy, a grid of over 40 half life-sized rooms made from his characteristic cardboard and packing tape, was a highlight at yesterday’s opening of Art Basel’s Art Unlimited – the giant hall for outsize sculptures and installations that could never fit in one of the 300 gallery booths in the hangar next door. Each unit in Hotel Democracy is furnished with small single beds and tiny TVs, and every room is wallpapered with violent, visceral imagery from today’s (and some of yesterday’s) frontlines of violent disaffection: Camp X-Ray inmates in Guantanamo, Neo-nazis, Islamic militia, Ku Klux Klan. Exactly the kind of stuff you wouldn’t want to be confronted with immediately upon waking. Each room, Hirschhorn claims, is a facet of what the word democracy might mean – or indeed oppose.
Hotel Democracy [is] a kind of utopia, where each competing, fanatical, singular ideology is allowed to co-exist with the others thanks to the (literally) paper-thin walls…