Invited to occupy the entire Museo de Artes Decorativas as part of Havana Biennial XIII, Théo Mercier’s exhibition “Ne me quitte pas” [Don’t leave me] is like a scenario in which the museum becomes the stage for a restorative archaeology. In this former colonial residence, which became a national museum after Countess Maria Luisa Gomez Mena fled during the Cuban revolution in 1959, the artist decided to contaminate the museum’s collection, which is largely made up of perfectly preserved, anachronistic French art objects from the 18th to 19th centuries, by reintroducing Cuban forms and know-how that he discovered during his residencies in Havana. In a gesture he describes as “inverted exoticism”, he creates a machine for dismantling time, space and good taste, in which Cubanity reinvests the identity and history of this symbolic building. Like a curator, he paints a portrait of everyday life in Cuba through the works he has produced in collaboration with various Cuban artists and craftsmen he has met on his travels. Whereas the Cuban countess dreamed of France, the French artist dreams of Cuba in reverse, staging an inverted exoticism that questions the artificiality of our representations and the notion of fair trade.