BAD TIMING | Théo Mercier Exhibition

Exhibition from 10 June to 25 September 2023
Performance on 16 and 17 September in the framework of the Short Theatre Festival 2023

A former fellow of the Villa Medici in 2013-2014, the artist and director Théo Mercier returns ten years later to the walls of this place that marked a decisive turning point in his artistic career to present BAD TIMING. This solo exhibition unfolds on the scale of architecture, in the interior and exterior spaces of the Villa Medici from 10 June 2023, and during a performative highlight that will take place in September 2023.

From the outset, the exhibition scenario proposed by Théo Mercier seems to be settled. A rain of cars crashed in the air on the Piazzale of Villa Medici. Facing the ground and wings open, these birds with their injured bodies let out the last breaths of a musical radio that is difficult to hear. Further on, a series of sculptures of chairs modelled in bronze melting in the sun can be seen here and there in the building. Abandoned, deformed, crushed or torn between the weight of a heavy stone and the suction of a helium balloon stretched towards the zenith, these sculptures actually indicate the path of an enigma that will find its outcome in the interior spaces of Villa Medici.

Sheltered from the melancholy of the sky, it is in the exhibition rooms that lead to the ancient cistern that Théo Mercier stages the underground resolution of this dystopian situation, inspired by the ancient tradition of the Palaces of Memory. The sculptures he invites to this space of paradoxical memory are hybrid installations made of user appliances and amputated marble sculptures, from the collections of the Villa Medici. Bound by different shibari techniques, this new series of borrowed sculptures express the artist’s sadism and enjoyment of dealing with the flamboyant residues of the past and the post-industrial residues of contemporary chaos.

Performance: Radio Vinci Park, Théo Mercier and François Chaignaud

Saturday 16 September: 10.00 pm
Sunday 17 September: 9.30 pm
Venue: I Granai Shopping Centre – Underground car park

Booking required at this link.

Théo Mercier and François Chaignaud will be presenting Radio Vinci Park in Rome, as part of the Short Theater 2023 festival and with the support of Hermès.

From John Dowland and Henry Purcell to Michael Nyman and the great classics, Radio Vinci Park stages a disturbing ritual of “motor-mechanical” biker combat, a veritable dance within an urban setting, bringing the Short Theater to a place rarely frequented by artistic itineraries – a car park in Roma70, a residential area on the outskirts of the city.

The movements of choreographer and singer François Chaignaud clash with the violent roar of the engines produced by stuntman Cyril Bourny, contrasting with the harmonious grace of the baroque music played live by harpsichordist Marie-Pierre Brébant. Three figures revealing three different relationships between body and machine, in a ritual that, halfway between the act of domestication, the dance of seduction, kidnapping, duel and attack, gradually transforms the underground car park into an arena.

More information


Théo Mercier was born in Paris in 1984 and lives between Paris and Marseille. Claiming formal freedom, Théo Mercier strives to deconstruct the mechanisms of history, objects and representations in which he goes back to harmonious contradictions. An explorer, collector and artist in turn, he carries out a reflection that is located at the intersection between anthropology, geopolitics and tourism. The result is a sprawling body of work populated by dystopian myths and iconoclastic sculptures in which past, present and future, life and death, artisanal and industrial, secular and sacred, real and fiction, clash in an orderly cacophony.

A former fellow of the Villa Medici and nominated for the Marcel Duchamp Prize in 2014, Théo Mercier has had solo exhibitions at the Conciergerie de Paris, the Luma Westbau Foundation (Zurich), the Lambert Collection (Avignon), the Museo El Eco (Mexico City), the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature [Museum of Hunting and Nature] (Paris), the [mac] Musée d’art contemporain (Marseille), le Lieu Unique (Nantes) and the Tri Postal (Lille).

Moving from a practice of the “white cube” to that of the “black box”, Théo Mercier directed Du futur faisons table rase (2014), Radio Vinci Park (co-written with François Chaignaud, 2016), La Fille du collectionneur (2017), Affordable Solution for Better Living (co-written with Steven Michel, 2018) for which they received the Silver Lion of the 2019 Venice Biennale, BIG SISTERS (co-written with Steven Michel, 2020) and OUTREMONDE, a series of “living landscapes” around the theme of childhood and the imagination of sand, created between 2021-2022. His performances have been shown at Nanterre-Amandiers, the Festival d’Automne, the Ménagerie de verre, the Centre Pompidou (Paris), and the Festival d’Avignon, among others. Representing the French Pavilion at the Prague Quadrennial 2023 with his collaborator Céline Peychet, he is currently preparing a new choreographic creation around waste, entitled Skinless, whose creation is scheduled for the spring of 2024.

Special thanks

For the exhibition: Caroline Courrioux, Céline Peychet
For the performance: Alix Sarrade

Atelier Théo Mercier
Romain Flizot, Rémi Gaubert & Andrea Lo Giudice

Locksmith & car structures
Sandro Lamendola (Matrice Zero Produzioni) with Alfonzo Rainone, Francesco Rainone, Daniele Longhi, Daniele di Gregorio & Andrea Brugnoli

Fonderia Fattorini

Sound Design
Manuel Cascone

May Dosem


Project in partnership with MB Autodemolizioni et the municipality of Fiumicino, Rome.

Special thanks
Francesca Alberti, Marius Belmeguenaï, Emanuele Coccia, Francesca di Carrobio, Piersandra di Matteo, Fabbro Rainone, Erwan Fichou, Martina Ruggeri

Practical informations

The exhibition can be viewed in full during the guided tours of Villa Medici.
It is also partially accessible with the ticket for the Festival des Cabanes.

Ticketing for the guided tours
Ticketing for the Festival des Cabanes

Performance programme in partnership with

With the support of

Cover and body text images: © Erwan Fichou
Théo Mercier’s portrait: © Jérôme Lobato