French Performance Artist Seals Himself Inside a Giant Stone for Eight Days

Abraham Poincheval is no stranger to daring performance art, but his latest project is probably the toughest one yet. The French artist will spend eight straight days sealed in a human shaped hole carved out inside a giant boulder. The purpose of this unusual performance – “to find out what the world is”.

On February 22, 2017, 45-year-old Poincheval was sealed in this carved out stone sarcophagus at Paris’s Palais de Tokyo gallery, where he will allegedly spend eight straight days, until March 1st. His temporary prison, a large boulder split in two with just enough room to fit the artist’s body in sitting position, and enough food and water to keep him in good physical condition over his eight days of isolation. His only connection to the outside world is a ventilation duct that keeps him from suffocating in the tight space.

“The purpose is to feel the aging stone inside the rock,” told media reporters. “There is my own breathing, and then the rock which lives, still humid because it was extracted not so long ago from the quarry. So there is that flow, that coming and going, between myself and the stone.”


Photo: Galerie Semiose (Paris)

Poincheval said that he has spent a lot of time preparing for the unique performance, both mentally and physically and is confident that he can pull it off. But just in case something goes horribly wrong before completing the stunt, his vitals are constantly monitored by a medical staff. In an emergency the boulder can be split in half to remove its temporary inhabitant. Poincheval’s predictably boring experience inside the rock is constantly broadcast on screens inside the Paris gallery, via small cameras inside the stone.


Photo: Palais de Tokyo/Facebook

During his eight days of meditation at the heart of the stone, Poincheval will try to survive dried meat, cartons of soup and a few other liquids, but his main concern is psychological, as he fears the isolation and tight space could cause him to lose contact with reality. He hopes visitors will speak to the stone, as they did during a previous performance he put on in Marseilles a while a ago to keep him mentally sane.


Photo: Palais de Tokyo/Facebook

But while Abraham is worried about his sanity, most people have expressed their concern about toilet business. The artist has reportedly been evasive about this issue leading up to the beginning of his stunt, but just before he was sealed in the stone, he told AFP that he would urinate into empty water bottles and sit on a small container to excrete. Regarding the smell, Poincheval said “The stone will absorb some of the smell, I think I can take it.”


Photo: Palais de Tokyo/Facebook

Abraham Poincheval is well known in France and abroad for his offbeat performances. In the past, he has spent 13 days sealed inside a taxidermied bear, a week buried in a tiny hole in the floor of a French library and navigated a river in a corked bottle, just to name a few. Following this performance, he plans to sit on a dozen eggs for approximately four weeks until they hatch. Sounds like you’ll be reading about him here again soon.


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