05.07 – 26.09.2021
For the 75thedition of the Festival d’Avignon, Théo Mercier has been invited to the Collection Lambert to take over the large basement rooms and the auditorium. He has responded with UNDERWORLD, a collaborative, authentic biotope organised around a dual device of exhibition-decor and performance taking place during the theatre festival. In this factory of gazes, Théo Mercier renews not only his own relationship with ways of displaying work and the very idea of the spectacular, but he also suggests new ways of thinking about the presence and movement of the spectator within the exhibition and performance spaces.
In this theatre of transformations, the spectator embarks upon a journey of perception where the objects and the actors that they meet make up the flesh of the exhibition. Underground, physically cut-off from the exterior world, the visitor makes their way through an environment in which gestures and gazes are guided by various sound, light, and visual devices that invent ephemeral choreographies where the desire generated by the spatial dispositions influences the experience and the choices of the spectator.
… is its performance (10-20 July)
This evolving exhibition-decor is twinned with a performance presented in coproduction with the Festival d’Avignon. Each evening, the exhibition will remain open to a new audience for a unique experience that will alter the form it takes the following day.
Initially, the spectators move through the exhibition rooms, guided by sounds, visuals, and the presence of an actress. Then, in the museum’s auditorium, the seated spectators look towards the stage, which is occupied by a collection of inanimate objects, like the ghosts of the bodies that are usually there. The spectator’s gaze is guided by a lighting choreography created by the artist. After the final performance and until the end of the exhibition, these readings (each one of which is recorded) will be diffused in this space.
Production Studio Théo Mercier and Compagnie Good World
With the support of: The Fondation d’entreprise Hermès, as part of its New Settings program.
Coproduction: with the Collection Lambert in Avignon, Festival d’Avignon, Bonlieu Scène nationale Annecy, CCN-Ballet national de Marseille, Théâtre national de Bretagne
Théo Mercier attempts to deconstruct the workings of history, of objects, and of representations, within which he unearths harmonious contradictions. Moving between the roles of explorer, collector, and artist, his practice is situated at the crossroads of anthropology, geopolitics, and tourism. The result is a far-reaching body of work, full of dystopian myths and iconoclastic sculptures where the past meets the future, life meets death, craft meets industry, the profane meets the sacred, and reality meets fiction, all in an ordered cacophony.
Resident at the Villa Medicis in 2013 and nominated for the Marcel-Duchamp prize in 2014, Théo Mercier has had solo exhibitions at the Museo El Eco (Mexico), the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (Paris), the [mac] Musée d’Art Contemporain (Marseille), the Lieu Unique (Nantes), and the Tri Postal (Lille). His work has been shown in group exhibitions at the Centre Pompidou (Paris), the Hamburger Bahnhof (Berlin) and the Palacio Bellas Artes (Mexico).