On Feb. 22, French artist Abraham Poincheval moved into his temporary new home: a 12,000-kilogram (or 12-metric-ton) limestone boulder located inside Paris’s Palais de Tokyo art museum.
He will reside there for a full week.
The modest abode doesn’t offer much in terms of space. For his entire stay, Poincheval will sit in a Poincheval-shaped hole carved in the middle of the rock, his arms outstretched before him. Breathing holes have been punctured into the limestone, yet the artist will remain cloaked in darkness for the entirety of his stay, without knowledge of what time or day it is.
It’s all part of a performance piece (slash “mystical journey”) titled “Pierre,” which translates to “stone” in English. Over the course of the week, Poincheval ― whose work often revolves around intense challenges of confinement, isolation and meditation ― will detach from the human pace of life and learn to live at the speed of a mineral.
One of the less mystical aspects of the experience, however, is the fact that Poincheval, who will temporarily subsist on a diet of dried meat, cartons of soup and other liquids, has to pee in water bottles and store his excrement around him for the duration of his performance.
In anticipation of the piece, Poincheval, 44, has been physically and mentally training for months. Yet how exactly the artist will react to the extreme conditions of his performance remains unknown. Thankfully, museum visitors will be able to keep the artist company, speaking to him through a crack in the middle of the rock.
Poincheval will chronicle the emotional and logistical details of his rocky experience in a journal, explaining in very literal terms what it feels like to be the heart of a stone ― and basically entombed alive.
In an interview with The Guardian, Poincheval described his first days inhumed as comparable to a psychedelic trip. “It’s very complex,” he said. “You pass from one feeling to an another. Like you are being carried away on a raft. It’s like tripping. I am trying to explain (the feelings) in language but it very difficult to put down in black and white.”
The artist has an emergency phone line in case of emergencies, though his prior performances suggest he’ll be just fine. In 2014, Poincheval took up residence inside the stomach of a dead bear for two weeks, where his diet consisted of worms and beetles. He’s also spent eight days buried under a rock, a week on top of a 65-foot pole, and 20 days underground as a human mole.
After “Stone,” Poincheval is moving on to an even stranger artistic pursuit, titled “Egg.” For this one, he will sit on a dozen eggs for between three and four weeks, with the hopes that they’ll hatch.
“Pierre” runs from from Feb. 22 to March 1. “Egg” begins March 29 and will continue for a period of 21-26 days at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris.