Theo Mercier was born in Paris in 1984. Without any back- ground in fine art but an extensive history of industrial design, Mercier attended ENSCI (École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle) in Paris and UDK (Universität der Künste) in Berlin. By way of working with Bernard Willhelm and Bjork on a series of design projects, he moved to New York in 2008 to assist for Matthew Barney.
Mercier had a relationship to the tools and materials necessary for his design and construction that went beyond their functional use. After being exposed to Barney’s studio, his approach shifted with a newfound creative license to assemble the world of objects around him with a distinct visual poetry. His rapidly evolving practice resulted in a series of installations and sculptures made up of found objects: props, masks, pet shop toys, symbolic icons from art history books, tools sourced from domestic environments, and a wide variety of shrine-like materials. In each assemblage there is a harmonious cross-pollination of human and animal, blessed and damned, masculine and feminine and primordial and futuristic. Mercier seeks to challenge our learned notions of gender identity as seen in the ambiguous anatomy in his sculptures. He continues to find new ways to reveal and renegotiate our relationship to the past as he grinds textbook evidence up against fabricated histories. In his most recent work, he’s finding his voice in exposing the media’s hierarchy of information distribution as he freely clashes fleeting modern-day trends with worldwide phenomena of the past and present.
Mercier’s first solo show was in 2009 at Musée de la Chasse in Paris. The following year, his participation in the group exhibition Dynasty at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris featured a larger-than-life sculpture made entirely of spa- ghetti titled Le Solitaire. By 2012, Mercier had completed two more solo shows including Desperanza at the Tri Postal in Lille, France and Le Grand Mess at the Lieu Unique in Nantes, France. Several of his works were featured in the 2013 exhibition L’Objet surréaliste, at Centre Georges Pompidou. Later that same year, Mercier completed his residency at the Villa Medici in Rome where he created an exhibition space out of his studio. Upon returning to Paris after his time in Rome, Mercier received a nomination for the Marcel Duchamp award. By the end of 2014, Mercier decided to leave Paris to set up a new studio at Casa Maaud in Mexico City which informed his recent solo show Craft Thoughts Wood Songs. Mercier is currently preparing for a solo show at Mac Marseille, which is scheduled to open in fall of 2016. His work has been featured in various group exhibitions at, Palais de Tokyo, La Maison Rouge, MACVAL and others.
Alongside his studio practice, Mercier has also been work- ing in performance. In 2013 he directed his first show titled Du Futur Faisons Table Rase with François Chaignaud, Marlene Saldana, Jonathan Drillet, Pauline Jambet and the band Sexy Sushi. Next year, he has three different performances lined up at Le Theatre des Amandiers, La Ménagerie de Verre in Paris and Le Festival Actoral in Marseille. Through his performances, Mercier has also collaborated on a range of projects with musicians like Phillippe Katerine, Connan Mocassin and Sexy Sushi and others.
François Chaignaud lives and works in Paris. Dancer, performance artist, singer, he has been trained at Conservatoire National Supérieur de Danse de Paris and has collaborated with many choreographers (Charmatz, Huynh, Brun, Buffard ...)
From He’s One that Goes to Sea for Nothing but to Make him sick (2004) to Radio Vinci Park (2016 - in collaboration with Theo Mercier), he has created performances in which dance and singing intersect, in a wide variety of environments and at the meeting points of many inspirations. From this tension the possibility of a body takes shape, inhabiting the space between the sensual rigour of movement, the evocative power of singing, and the convergence of heterogeneous historical references - from erotic literature (Aussi Bien Que Ton Cœur Ouvre Moi Les Genoux, 2008) to sacred art (Dumy Moyi, 2013). His last collaborations include works with visual artist Théo Mercier, Sophia Al Maria, with writer Anne james Chaton, artists Phia Ménard— Nosfell, Marie Caroline Hominal, Jérôme Marin, video maker César Vayssié ... His work is shown worldwide.
Since 2005, the artist has been focused on creating a steady dialogue with Cecila Bengolea, through the company Vlovajob Pru, and the results have attracted widespread critical acclaim. Together, they created Pâquerette (2005- 2008), Sylphides (2009), Castor et Pollux (2010), Danses Libres, (M)IMOSA (co-written and performed with Trajal Harrell and Marlene Monteiro Freitas, 2011), altered natives’ Say Yes To Another Excess—TWERK (2012), Dublove (2013), DFS (2016). They have been commissioned to create works for major companies such the Lyon Opera Ballet, the Ballet de Lorraine, or recently the Tanztheater Wuppertal—Pina Bausch.
They prepare a large dance exhibition for Dia Art Fondation in 2017-2018. In 2009, they won the critique choreographic revelation award. They received the Noon Award for emerging artist at the Gwangju Biennale in 2014.
François Chaignaud and Cecilia Bengolea are artists associated with Bonlieu Scène nationale Annecy from 2016.