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 human being. A centaur, half man and half furniture, absurdly builds his own customized interior, unique and yet like all 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 their interior?

Théo Mercier and Steven Michel

The work of artist and stage director Théo Mercier forms a critical inquiry at the intersection of anthropology, ethnography, geopolitics and tourism. 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.

By producing and collecting such hybridity – polymorphic, polyvocal, ambiguous, of uncertain origin and use – Théo Mercier gives shape to a very distinct exoticism: transcultural, transgeographic and transtemporal. Between real and imagined anthropology, the artist’s approach is like that of an explorer bringing back objects from real or fictional worlds, as evidence of journeys that may or may not have happened.

Steven Michel studied mime and circus from an early age, and dance and percussion as a teenager, before settling in Brussels in 2006 for his training at P.A.R.T.S. He has worked as an interpreter with choreographers, directors and filmmakers such as David Zambrano, Anouk Van Dijk and Falk Richter, Lukas Dhont, Daniel Linehan and Maud Le Pladec, as well as visual artists Théo Mercier and Sarah&Charles. Since 2012 he has been collaborating with the Belgian choreographer Jan Martens and in 2016, he produced a solo They Might Be Giants.

Steven Michel’s goal is to experience different roles and approaches, to explore diverse objects and to blur the boundaries between modes of expression, such as: fiction and science; harmony and chaos; the eye and the ear; the analogue and the digital.

Steven Michel and Théo Mercier received a Silver Lion at La Biennale di Venezia 2019 for Affordable Solution for Better Living.

Media

The 2019 Lion Awards for Dance (La Biennale di Venezia, 21.6.2019)