On Sunday, Art Basel’s chief executive Noah Horowitz sent an email to VIPs of its Paris + fair, which opens this week (18-22 October), with a message reflecting the gravity of the current international political situation.
“I wanted to take a moment to address the ongoing crisis in the Middle East, which began with the atrocious attacks perpetrated by Hamas in southern Israel,” he wrote. “The growing number of civilian casualties in Gaza, Israel and the West Bank is deeply distressing, as is the prospect of a prolonged humanitarian tragedy in the region. This new escalation of violence afflicts us not only as individuals, but also as members of a community whose core values are humanity, mutual respect and dialogue”.
In the wake of the tragic events in the Middle East, France was struck by a terrorist attack on 13 October, when a 57-year-old French teacher, Dominique Bernard, was stabbed to death in a secondary school in Arras by a former student known to be a radical. On the same day, the French prime minister Elisabeth Borne decided to raise the national security alert to the highest level of emergency.
The following day, the Louvre museum announced that it would close its doors “for security reasons” after receiving threats. A security perimeter was set up around the building and the Palais-Royal-Musée du Louvre metro station was placed out of service. On the same day, the Château de Versailles was evacuated after a bomb threat was posted on a website. Both institutions reopened as normal on Sunday.
Against this backdrop, the organisers of Paris+ by Art Basel have decided to step up security checks, and remove the use of the cloakroom from the fair. “As fair organisers, the safety of our exhibitors, visitors and staff is of the utmost importance,” Horowitz said in his email.
Visitors to the show will be subject to extensive security screening protocols, including metal detectors and bag checks. Ram barriers will be installed around the Grand Palais Éphémère and additional security personnel will be deployed to patrol the perimeter of the fair, Horowitz said.