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Mattresses, sleeping bags, pieces of cardboard, dismantled beds, broken stones, and truncated columns… What are these ruins, of sand, that Théo Mercier has brought to light under the centuries-old vaults of the Conciergerie? Are they ours? Those of our world “in crisis” – at war, bankrupt, on borrowed time…? Or those of another world? Of this Outworld designated in the title of the trilogy of which the former prison of the Conciergerie hosts the third part, The Sleeping Chapter? Both, answered the visual artist-scenographer who, for weeks, with seventeen assistants, sculpted in situ this ghostly and ephemeral city: “These are the ruins of our individual and collective dreams, our broken dreams, our wounded dreams, the ruins of love stories… the theater of misery that is in our cities and in our rooms…” 

© Erwan Fichou

Deserted landscape, evoking some abandoned shelter, an immense makeshift dormitory where only the broken beds bear the imprint of human life, of the passage of man, this Outworld as if latent, flickering in its sandy gangue, is however populated by dogs. Petrified too, but with eyes cut out of obsidian, they have a strange presence despite their sandy bodies. Inspired by the recumbents of kings and great lords accompanied by their dogs for eternity in their tomb-mausoleums, “they are the guardians of sleep, the guardians of our nights and our insomnia” and, like the dog of the passage of Egyptian mythology, lead us on the path of eternity and guide us in our wandering, along our earthly journey, “eyes wide open on the dark night.”  

© Erwan Fichou

Another guide, not sculpted but staged, by Théo Mercier: the child, the one he calls “the child of times.” that he makes wander in the middle of the ruins during the performances, giving life to his landscape: crossing the nights without ever closing his eyes, he is, like the dog, our guide, but also our breather and comforter, a kind of guardian angel of the migrants and the beggars, healing the wounds and filling the gaps, doctor of the bodies and souls…

© Erwan Fichou

Like a mirage ready to vanish in the unstable sands, the evanescent landscape sculpted by Théo Mercier becomes a crossing, a crossing of time and emptiness, saying, through the fragility and instability of a material and forms, doomed to disappear, to which he has given form, the salutary precariousness of existence: “material of the metamorphosis, of the mutation par excellence,” malleable matter opening all the field of the possible ones, the sand is the ground of the dreams… And we enter here in his cathedral. 

© Erwan Fichou

A sublime and overwhelming journey out of time.

Until January 8th
At La Conciergerie de Paris – 2, bd du Palais, Ier –

A series of performances presented from December 3 to 11 in the context of the New Settings program of the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès. 

 Stéphanie Dulout