Living in Taxidermy: A French Artist’s Stay Inside a Bear’s Stomach
“Art,” such a beautifully open concept that anything, if twisted just so, can be labeled with the umbrella term – even living in a bear carcass. Indeed, a French performance artist spent about two weeks practically living inside the hollowed remains of your average bear.
Artist Abraham Poincheval was inside the bear from April 1st through the 13th for his interactive exhibit at Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature. Intended to rejoin the artist with his primal roots and test his physical limits, Poincheval only has the bare necessities in his temporary home including: a thin cushion, some food and water, a kettle and a toilet of some fashion. Being an artist of the modern age, Poincheval also had a live feed set up for the duration of his stay in the bear.
The artist is destined to be forever marked by his latest stint, but it’s not the first time he’s dabbled in the arts like this. Two years ago, for his project “604,800 seconds,” he challenged himself to live in an uncomfortably small hole, shrouded in darkness due to a massive boulder on top. He’s also taken it upon himself to live in a metal cylinder container in sub-zero temperatures. This is not your average man.
Inspired by the animal carcasses he’d see while living in the French Alps, yet another performance of his, Poincheval had a deep desire to unite with such an animal and, as stated in a press release, to recall “the transcendence between man and bear [that] endures since the dawn of time.”
It’s seems unlikely that anyone else has approached this symbolic relationship as intimately as Poincheval. Literally inside the bear, it’s not as if he could get any closer, yet I question how deep this animalistic connection runs.
Looking inside the bear, it’s understood why some adaptations to the anatomy were required for the project, yet it seems to actually remove the artist from his primal setting. The actual structure, when viewed from inside, doesn’t resemble the bear at all and could pass for some modern interpretation of a compact living space. Does the fact that the space is in a bear really make the difference, or is this just another cramped living quarters project of Poincheval?
His innovation cannot be forgotten, but as it is art, his performance piece is open to critique and interpretation. Once you get past the initial shock, there’s a conversation waiting to be had.