Dream Hunters is the second chapter of the OUTREMONDE cycle by French artist Théo Mercier. The first chapter, presented at the Collection Lambert in Avignon in 2021, was a performative manifestation, consisting entirely of sand sculptures, which was inviting the visitors to participate in an experiential process leading eventually to the sculptures slow dematerialization. Through live performance, visitors were invited to explore the sculptural landscape, following a ten-year old boy that moved between moments and spaces and encounters, activating each time a unique context.
For the second chapter, hosted at Luma Westbau
, an augmented landscape of sand sculptures has been created. Hosting a labyrinth of elements that relate to processes of sleeping, birth and regeneration, each sculpture is a remnant of a world where meaning is suspended. Central to the environment are sand sculptures in the shape of dogs. Dogs are animals that have been strongly associated with the concept of guarding, protecting, and hunting. They are also symbolically important in different cultures as animals representing love, devotion, fidelity, and faith. Here they exist in silence, waiting but also raising questions around the nature of time, temporality, and time-space relations.
Concerned with the state of sleep as an insight into the conscious and subconscious world, Mercier explores the meaning or symbolic relationship that different states of consciousness have for the concept and meaning of ones life. In his work he explores themes of abjection, psychoanalysis, and transcendence. His performances evolve towards a complex cross-disciplinary approach to include concerns around the function of memory, the production of subjectivity and the understanding of the material world and of human experience. The sand-sculpted beds and dogs and the performative activations which are integral to the work reflect on the way in which the intimate and the affective are invested with suspense, possibilities, tension, and desire.
For the duration of the exhibition the sand sculptures will transform as part of the performative activation, and through living organisms and plants that have been incorporated in their construction. Allowing a degree of indeterminacy, the landscape will continue to grow and expand independently of artistic control. The end result is unknown, adding an element of sentience and surprise to the life of the work.
With the sand as constant materia prima, OUTREMONDE is a nomadic project in multiple chapters, and it will continue to evolve and deepen. Certain characters will appear in further chapters while others will change, giving to the ongoing narratives a sense of continuous dynamism and change, responding each time to the conditions of each future performance while constructing and reconstructing new relationships between sites, objects, concepts, images, movement, narratives, time, and the pro-duction of reality.
Born in 1984, Théo Mercier is a French sculptor and director, he lives and works between Paris and Mexico City. Proclaiming a formal freedom in his practice, he strives to deconstruct the mechanisms of history, objects and representations in which he finds harmonious contradictions. By turns explorer, collector and artist, he engages in a reflection at the intersection of anthropology, geopolitics and tourism.
Resident of the Villa Medicis in 2013 and nominated for the Marcel-Duchamp Prize in 2014, Mercier has presented solo shows at the Habana Biennial (Cuba), Foundation Lambert (Avignon), Museo El Eco (Mexico), Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (Paris), Museum of Contemporary Art (Marseille), Lieu Unique (Nantes) and Tri Postal (Lille). His work has been featured in numerous group shows at the Centre Pompidou (Paris), Hamburger Banhof (Berlin), Jameel Arts Centre (Dubai), Palacio Bellas Artes (Mexico) among others. Shifting from a "white cube" to a "black box" practice, Mercier has directed Du futur faisons table rase (2014), Radio Vinci Park (2016, co-created with François Chaignaud), La Fille du collectionneur (2017) and Affordable Solution for Better Living (2018, co-created with Steven Michel) for which they received the Silver Lion of the Venice Biennial 2019, BIG SISTERS (2020, co-created with Steven Michel) and OUTREMONDE, a series of living landscapes entirely made of sand sculpture (initiated in 2021). His performances have been presented at Nanterre Amandiers, the Menagerie de verre (Paris), Usine C (Montreal), The Invisible Dog Art Center (New York), Actoral Festival (Marseille), Dampfezentrale (Bern), Vooroit Art Center (Ghent), or Vidy (Lausanne).