T(h)ermites, project for a bunker in the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer (France)
Thermite, fluorescent lamps (yellow monochromatic light)


T(h)ermites is a site-specific intervention conceived for a WWII bunker in the port of Boulogne (France). T(h)ermites is part of our global project ParaSites, which explores the potential of using behaviours and strategies of parasites as models for sculptural propositions in the built environment. The bunker is primarily visible from a busy coastal promenade at a distance of about 200 meters. Actually, the view from the promenade reveals nothing but the bunker’s rectangular façade (ca. 30m wide and 8m high), which has been screened off by metal sheeting some time after the war.


Interestingly for us, the bunker has already been “parasited” by an enormous advertising board in 2010. The board was mounted on a huge support structure which had been attached to the bunker, using it like a plinth. The board and the support structure have since been removed but have left some (perforation) marks in the metal façade of the bunker. Taking resource in parasitic strategies, we consider these existing traces as indicators of the potentially weakest point in the “host’s defence system” and as guidance for our own intervention. We aim at further extending the existing perforation by means of “thermite”, a chemical compound capable of burning through metal.


During a performative event at night the t(h)ermite, attached to predefined sections of the bunker’s façade, will be ignited and burn (brightly) through the metal sheeting. These new traces of invasion will be illuminated by yellow lighting, rendering the spontaneous transformation permanently visible. The shape of the new perforation is based on a pictogram which depicts two persons lifting a box and indicates a heavy object. The pictogram does not only evoke the shape and physical weight of the bunker but, more importantly, its politico-historical heaviness and the need for a collective approach for dealing with this “heritage” in a sensitive way.



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