In Affordable Solution for Better Living, visual artist Théo Mercier and choreographer Steven Michel break the taboos of a society saddled with healthy living, placing a Kallax–a most peculiar totem–in the middle of a spotless space. The flagship shelf unit by the giant company Ikea, less famous than the Billy but more sizable and refined, epitomizes “beauty for all”. By transposing a commercial system to a choreographic piece, Affordable Solution for Better Living aims to interrogate the commodified body, the prescribed lifestyle and the illusion of freedom touted by the major industrial powers. How does the corporate world stage the consumer’s body? Is the household the only insubmissive space or in fact an umpteenth incarnation staged by a major brand? In three acts, Affordable Solution for Better Living debunks the model and unfurls the convictions and doubts of a nearly perfect and polished man. A centaur, half man and half furniture, absurdly builds his own customized interior, unique and yet like all the others. In crescendo mode, man and space merge beautifully, the smooth, harmonious and chilling world cracks and bends, exposing its dark side as well as its humanity. Aren’t people likely to self-destruct from within as they strive excessively to tend to their interior?
Conception, choreography, and scenography: Théo Mercier and Steven Michel
With: Steven Michel
Text: Jonathan Drillet
Lighting Designer: Éric Soyer
Sound Composer: Pierre Desprats
Costumes: Dorota Kleszcz
Stage Management: François Boulet
Executive Production: Delphine Vuattoux, Nanterre-Amandiers, Centre dramatique national, apap – Performing Europe 2020 – with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union
Executive Production Officer: Paola Gilles
Coproduction: Bonlieu Scène nationale Annecy
Booking: Art Happens/Sarah De Ganck
Photo: Erwan Fichou
In Collaboration With: workspacebrussels / Life Long Burning, with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union
Actoral – Festival international des arts et des écritures contemporaines & Montévidéo, Créations Contemporaines – Atelier de Fabrique Artistique,La ménagerie de verre, CAMPO, Ghent (Belgium)
The work of Artist and Stage Director Théo Mercier forms a critical inquiry at the intersection of anthropology, ethnography, geopolitics and tourism. Between choreographed performance works and the exploration of diverse materials, he is both a creator and a collector, involved in a rich dialogue between past, present and future, between animate and inanimate, truth and lies, artisanal and industrial, sacred and profane, real and imaginary.
Most of Mercier’s pieces turn on the anthropomorphisation of objects–whether they are found, assembled, in collage or grafted together. He tends to work in series, forming communities of pieces–roughly grouped as young or old, male or female.
Résident at Villa Médicis de Rome, he writes his first performance Du futur faisons table rase, performed at Nanterre-Amandiers (Paris) in December 2014. On the same year, Théo Mercier was nominated for Marcel Duchamp prize. He presented personal exhibition in Mexico, Los Angeles, Paris, New York… His works have been showed at Palais de Tokyo (Paris), Moscow Biennial, Centre Pompidou in Paris, at Hamburger Bannhof (Germany). His last performance La Fille du collectionneur has been showed in Nanterre-Amandiers (Paris) in 2017. He works and lives between Paris and Mexico.
Steven Michel (France, 1986) studied mime and circus from an early age, and dance and percussion as a teenager, before settling in Brussels in 2006. He trained at The P.A.R.T.S. dance school (Performing Arts Research and Training Studios), directed by Ann Teresa De Keersmaeker, graduating in 2010.
He has been working as a dancer with choreographers, theater director and filmmaker such as David Zambrano, Falk Richter, Lukas Dhont, Daniel Linehan et Maud Le Pladec, as well as plastic artist as Theo Mercier et Sarah&Charles. Since 2012 he regularly collaborates with the Belgian choreographer Jan Martens.
In 2014, Steven began a research project based on the theme of Audio-Vision, with the support from the Flemish authorities. His ideas have led him to explore the “rhizomatic” dimension of the audiovisual relationship, as a mental stimulus but also as pure sensory experience. In 2016 he produced the solo They Might Be Giants (2016), currently on tour. For the scenography he collaborated with visual artists Sarah & Charles. They Might Be Giants brings the viewer to a space where music and images excite the imagination and overturn perceptions. The solo piece questions the relations between the artificial, the natural, the animate, the inanimate, the immaterial and the monumental.
Steven is currently preparing a series of performance laboratories, open to artists from different disciplines. The methodological diversity of the research builds bridges to new areas of knowledge and experience. His goal is to not limit himself to a single discipline or tool, but to experience different roles and approaches, to explore diverse objects and to blur the boundaries between modes of expression. He continues to explore and to play with correspondences evoked by his research, such as: fiction and science; miniature and monumental scales; harmony and chaos; major modes and minor modes; the eye and the ear; the analogue and the digital.
Dates + Times
Monday, November 12, 7:30pm
Tuesday, November 13, 7:30pm
$10 Suggested Donation
The Main Gallery
51 Bergen St.