thomas hirschhorn constructs flamme eternelle within paris’ palais de tokyo
all images courtesy of flamme eternelle




thomas hirschhorn has returned to the palais de tokyo to present ‘flamme eternelle‘, an authentic public space built within the parisian institution. constructed as a wasteland of disused tires, spray painted cardboard pieces, packing tape-wrapped furniture, televisions, computer screens and a bar, the social environment is made available to an audience of both art-lovers and those who curiously wander inside. ‘it is an artwork, an exhibition within an institution.’ hirschhorn describes, ‘what I want to do is to create — within an institution — a public space or moments of public space. a space for encounters, dialogue, engagement. a space in which to be, to stay, to spend time and a space in which to think.’

thomas hirschhorn flamme eternelle palais de tokyo
the entrance to the exhibition within the palais de tokyo




the public dwelling encourages conversation and social discourse, engaging visitors to the installation with a functioning bar that serves inexpensive beverages, computers for use, a small library of shared books and DVDs and workstations for art-making. while the audience interacts with the furniture fragments at their disposal and meanders through the accumulation of placed materials, there are poets, writers, thinkers and teachers who read their written works aloud, as a microphone projects their words throughout the entire space. ‘eternal flame is not an interactive exhibition, it is an active work, a work whose activity never ceases. this activity is the act of thinking. this is where the work’s title comes from: the eternal flame of thought, the eternal flame of art and philosophy, the eternal flame of poetry, of what escapes us, of what i don’t understand.’ hirschhorn explains.

thomas hirschhorn flamme eternelle palais de tokyo
visitors to the installation interact at the bar

thomas hirschhorn flamme eternelle palais de tokyo
television screens are set up for the audience

thomas hirschhorn flamme eternelle palais de tokyo
a small campfire serves to unite the installation visitors

thomas hirschhorn flamme eternelle palais de tokyo
the social environment beckons audience participation and encourages conversation between strangers

thomas hirschhorn flamme eternelle palais de tokyo
poets, writers, thinkers and teachers read their written works aloud