TABLE OF CONTENTS

WEAK AFFINITIES: THE ART OF THOMAS HIRSCHHORN

THE MATERIALS

On the elevated Métro leading to Thomas Hirschhorn’s studio in the working-class neighborhood of Barbès (where he has lived since leaving his native Switzerland in 1984), blurred images flash before my eyes as I tick off the stops on the outskirts of Paris. Pigalle, Anvers, Barbès—they all bring to mind the immigrant neighborhoods where populations in exile gather. Coming to France from Africa, Asia, and the Antilles, they’ve found a way to integrate themselves in the urban milieu, or at least to get by, if barely.

In the great chaos of his installations, Hirschhorn draws on this precariousness, betting across the board on the slapdash and conditional rather than the permanent. From the beginning the artist has been committed to common materials. Cardboard is his staple; easily found, easily cut, it’s an everyday material children play with, the homeless salvage, the destitute

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