Shrine to 'chaos' safe from demolition campaign

14th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

LYON, France, Sept 13, 2006 (AFP) - A shrine to "chaos" — built by an eccentric millionnaire in the heart of a picturesque French village — won the right to remain standing on Wednesday despite a local bid to have it torn down.

LYON, France, Sept 13, 2006 (AFP) - A shrine to "chaos" — built by an eccentric millionnaire in the heart of a picturesque French village — won the right to remain standing on Wednesday despite a local bid to have it torn down.

Since 2001, businessman Thierry Ehrmann and a group of artists have been turning a 17th-century post office in Saint-Romain au Mont d'Or, on the outskirts of the southeastern city of Lyon, into a open-sky art gallery and a dark meditation on terrorism and warfare.

Ehrmann says he was inspired by the constant use of the word "chaos" in the media, in the wake of the September 11 attacks in 2001 and the US-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, to turn his home into a war theatre.

Scorched black or daubed blood-red, the building's outer walls are plastered with esoteric signs. Inside, there are media stills of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, references to arms proliferation and terrorism.

Amid a tangle of twisted metal, burnt-out cars, bunkers, camouflage gear and artificial meteorites, stands a sculpture representing the burning twin towers in New York, one of many visual references to the September 11 attacks.

A precious artwork for some — the culture ministry is considering making the 'Demeure du Chaos', or 'Abode of Chaos' a listed monument — others see it as an unwelcome eyesore. The mayor of Saint-Romain took legal action in 2004 to have it ripped down for violating local planning rules.

On Wednesday, however, an appeal court in Lyon ruled that the building in its current form was a work of art and could remain standing — though it fined Ehrmann EUR 200,000 euros for breach of planning regulations.

Despite the heavy fine, Ehrmann — who is chairman of the French database company Serveur and the online art valuation service Artprice.com and spent some EUR 900,000 on the chaos project — said he was delighted.

"The judges have confirmed that this is unquestionably a work of art, and have clearly shown their will to protect a unique and singular creation," he told AFP by telephone.

The mayor, Pierre Dumont, said after the hearing he planned to take his case to France's highest court of appeal. "Why should the law apply to some and not to others?"

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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