Théo Mercier Studio represents the French pavilion at the Prague Quadrennial 2023 – Czech Republic.

June 8-18, 2023

This global event is organized by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and produced by the Art and Theater Institute. It presents scenography as an art in its own right, which aims at creating spectacular spaces and imaginary worlds. Offering a different vision every four years and revealing a new perspective on this discipline, the Quadrennial has established itself as an essential international platform for training and exchange of experiences.

A site-specific installation, sculpted in sand, that deals with massive urbanisation and the guts of our soils. Within the framework of PQ23, the project formulates a radical production model based on the short-circuit borrowing of materials, in the tension between maximalist visual impact and minimalist ecological impact.

Under a ceiling of LEDs and in the manner of a vivarium of catastrophe, GUT CITY PUNCH offers the spectacle of a city displaced within architecture and disemboweled by urbanisation. In what looks like a landslide or a building site made entirely of sand, various sand pipes emerge, like post-industrial guts inhabiting the belly of the earth. Suddenly, the public finds itself beneath the surface of the earth, confronted with these giant entrails that make our daily lives as efficient, connected and disposable as possible. At the heart of the device, the choice of sand is not neutral: highly exploited in the globalised real estate sector, its plasticity touches the eye as well as the skin and the mind.

By interrupting the life cycle of this material for a few weeks, GUT CITY PUNCH witnesses a paradoxical and temporary state of matter. At the same time accomplice and abolitionist of the system, it delves into the phenomenon of destruction in order to rebuild it and that of construction in order to deconstruct it. The installation could be seen as the mirage of a sick model, as well as the praise of debris, with which more radical forms of life, cities, theatres, stages, shows and narratives can be recomposed. At once chaotic and erotic, terrifying and sublime, artificial and organic, this complex environment seeks to deploy dramaturgical forms from the sand, from a position where the landscape and its depths are given the voice and access to the stage.


Curators: Théo Mercier & Céline Peychet
Sand sculptors: Jeroen Advocaat, Enguerrand David & Jiří Kašpar
Music: Joseph Schiano di Lombo
Project assistant: Marius Belmeguenaï
Sound mix: Clément Labre
Sound technician: Zdeněk Altynski
Electricity & lighting technician: Pavel Hrstka
Compactors: Marian Marsalek, Martin Sustr