For his first solo exhibition in a French institution, entitled The Thrill Is Gone, Théo MERCIER, godfather of the 16th edition of Festival Actoral, is presenting new series of sculptures and photographs, in which he mixes archaeological and contemporary vestiges tinged with postmodernist and New Age aesthetics. In so doing, he offers a journey between archaeology, the present and the future, which emanates a sense of urgency in the face of the precariousness and obsolescence of objects, civilisations and beauty.
Between the rise and fall of objects and civilisations, Théo MERCIER has conceived a 1000-square-metre wartime museum, a room full of plunder or even an ensemble of objects seized by the customs. Each of the objects presented contains its end, its fall, its oblivion, as well as a political resonance. This feeling is all the more significant given that in this project, the artist establishes permeability between conservation and the present world, between what is in the museum (the past) and what is out (the present, the future). During the exhibition, what is found inside echoes what is found outside, in the form of a silent dialogue, which will be acted out during the opening, when two actors will speak in front of the works, alternating between the speech of a visitor, a museum educator, a special correspondent, a philosopher or an anthropologist.
As they wander, visitors will come upon Goodyear tyres on plinths, medallions containing archaeological vestiges and other prehistoric fossils, thus creating a singular calendar, a wheel of time, spanning from the beginning of the world to the contemporary era. They will see a damaged totem, and then, a pile of African masks that did not emerge intact from their Mediterranean crossing, as well as empty baseball masks ready to charge. They will also come across a collection of aquarium rocks linking abysses and fantastical visions of the cosmos, and will cut a path among big jars weightlessly erected, their balance seeming perfectly unstable, monuments to the fall as well as memories of Palmyra's temples and of Mosul's museum. The visitors will also contemplate a skyline of CD towers, city-symbol of an obsolete civilisation of objects.
An exhibition on endings, between History and oblivion, The Thrill Is Gone has the ring of an acknowledgement between splendour and decline, contemplation and powerlessness. However, by giving these objects the power to make us talk and think, Théo MERCIER half-opens the path to possibilities.
photo: Erwan Fichou
performances: Steven Michel, Marlene Saldana, Jonathan Drillet