La Bouteille, a performance by Abraham Poincheval

Abraham Poincheval
24.07.25 → 24.08.07

La Bouteille, a work by Abraham Poincheval commissioned by Plaine Commune and produced by cneai = in association with Ilotopie, is 580 centimetres long and 190 centimetres in diameter. This summer, from July 25 to August 3, it becomes a real vessel, as for the first time it will be afloat and inhabited by the artist on the Canal Saint-Denis, at the time of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Join us on July 25 from 9:30 a.m. for Abraham Poincheval’s entry into La Bouteille in the presence of Plaine Commune Chairman Mathieu Hanotin, his elected representatives and teams.

Practical information

LOCATION - geographical coordinates : 48.927752, 2.360547 / Quay near Jardin de l’écluse
THE ARTIST - find out more about Abraham Poincheval
DOWNLOAD - Press kit : dossier-de-presse-abraham-poincheval.pdf

At the opening of the Paris Olympic Games,

Abraham Poincheval will be offering a performance to canal-goers, passers-by, as well as fans and tourists visiting the Stade de France. For ten days, from July 25 to August 3, 2024, the artist will inhabit the inside of the bottle in a performance of which he has the secret. Accustomed to extreme practices, Abraham Poincheval echoes notions of confinement, isolation and immobility, opening himself up to a meditative journey and questioning the resilience of bodies and their environmental interactions.

The chosen location echoes history: during the siege of Paris in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, while the Canal Saint-Denis was still under construction, the besieged inserted messages into tin balls designed to float between two waters and cross opposing lines. In this way, the place gives the object a sense of entity: “an enlarged object that looks as if it had been abandoned by a giant”, the bottle disrupts the landscape by inviting its share of the imaginary. An object for storytelling and fiction, it proposes a narrative for which the passer-by, astonished, becomes a spectator and stops for a moment.

The theme of the bottle in the sea

symbolizes a journey through time and space, through winds and currents, to deliver a message. Whether the story of the bottle in the sea is imaginary or real, it offers us a reading of the society it crosses, just as the Olympic Games seem to crystallize in a punctum the essence of an era, a civilization, a city, a geopolitics. Thus bottled up, Abraham Poincheval surrounds himself with the bare essentials of life - water, food, first-aid kits and conveniences - and a plant ecosystem that turns the cabin into a garden, a greenhouse, a bedroom, a kitchen, a living room, a dining room and a dry toilet. He recreates the conditions of a possible, singular and rudimentary life. The experience of La Bouteille takes up the notions of performance and endurance to question them: in a fast-paced society with intensified lifestyles, isn’t immobility a remarkable effort, a potentially political object, a performance of self-sacrifice or self-mastery?


While sport and prowess take center stage, performance art invites audiences to pause and observe the experience of immobility and bodily resistance, to create or criticize our relationship with the world.
Immobility is experienced by the inhabitants of Seine-Saint-Denis, who are at the heart of this global event, and take part in it in a participatory way. Immobility is invested in the Olympian spectators, whose frenetic movements are halted by the intrigue of immobility as a choice. The absence of mobility of the bodies, eminently political elements, allows a posture of distancing from a plastic and physical form, a priori not so obvious to exercise in its societal context.


Thanks to the support of the cneai = and the expertise of Ilotopie, the envelope that will house the performer will be isolated from the mainland a few meters from the quay. To this end, the work will be transformed in an unprecedented way, as it will become floating, thanks to the work of Ilotopie, an association specializing in shows on water.

By positioning himself on the Canal Saint-Denis, Abraham Poincheval is responding to a desire on the part of Plaine-Commune to include, in the context of its hosting of a large number of Olympic and Paralympic Games facilities, an enhancement of the space by insisting on an environmental aspect at the heart of the 2024 Games.
The artist is responding to a call for projects issued by the Établissement public territorial Plaine-Commune, with a view to meeting its main territorial objectives: to promote the appropriation of facilities and public spaces by local residents, to affirm the area’s cultural and creative ambitions, and to reconcile tourist appeal with proximity to everyday users.

  • Plaine Commune / sponsor

    Plaine Commune has decided to enhance the value of the Saint-Denis canal, a major axis of the area’s history, economy and socio-environmental issues, by choosing it as the location for a new art trail, Les Victoires, to be unveiled in summer 2024. Six artists - including Abraham Poincheval - have been invited to create poetic, engaging and humorous works to help us all experience the excitement of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Each of the works incorporates a principle of eco-responsibility into its creation, through the use of natural, recycled or sustainable materials, or the creation of habitats for local wildlife. For this new commission, Plaine Commune called on COAL, an association which, since 2008, has been promoting the emergence of a new culture of ecology and the living.
    The Les Victoires course was awarded the “Cultural Olympiad” label by Paris 2024.
    Plaine Commune is an Établissement Public Territorial (EPT) comprising 9 towns north of Paris. They are united around a common project, in an area that is undergoing unprecedented change in the Paris region. Plaine Commune is also the Territoire de la culture et de la création dans le Grand Paris (more information here).

  • cneai = / producer

    cneai = art center composed, navigated, engaged, sheltered, imagined is a place for research, production, residency and dissemination of contemporary art. Since 1997, cneai = has been dedicated to the crossroads between theoretical research, experimental practice and support for artists and the public.

  • Ilotopie / partner

    Ilotopie is an open theater company. Public spaces are their stages. Invention and artistic intervention are their modes of action. Born in the Camargue on the last island of the great Rhône in 1980, the company, a pioneer of street theater, has kept from its origins a taste for the aquatic that often carries its shows.