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Artist portraits (26): Mathieu Mercier
Frankfurter Rundschau | 27.06.2002
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++++ A supporting construction for the leaves of a rubber tree, adjustable in height to adapt to the growth of the plant and also to hinder its growth. Absurd. And for precisely this reason interesting for Mathieu Mercier who was born in 1970 and lives in Paris.
Mercier has built supports for Manifesta too, three tall upright lamps whose neon-illuminated arms seem to support the ceiling of the Frankfurt Kunstverein. They look like a strange mixture of telescope and technical octopus. Their raison d’Ítre, however, lies solely in their sculptural independence. Neither is there a danger that the ceiling would fall down without support, nor is additional light necessary. Absurd once again.
For the same room in which he has positioned his lamps, Mercier has designed wooden modules in which the Manifesta archive is stored and which can be put together in ever new ways according to a building block principle. This flexibility, however, is only apparent. The circular arrangement seems static and the exhibition room seems to be crammed full of lamps and archive furniture in an unfortunate way. Formally, the furniture alludes to the tradition of Bauhaus and its successors and has been put completely at the service of its function, a successful mixture of shelf, place for sitting and table which would also be good at home.
Mercier likes to work at the interface between design and art, function and absurdity. He questions the traditional assignations of both areas, pushes both of them to absurdity in order to situate them in a new context. This approach has led to him participating in the first Berlin Berlinale and a group exhibition in the renowned FRAC Bourgogne in Dijon as well as solo presentations in well-known galleries in New York, San Francisco and Berlin. There is no question about it: in the opinion of the international art industry, Mathieu Mercier is an up-and-coming name to watch. He himself comments, "A botched job is better than doing nothing, and with a bit of luck it will hold until the professionals arrive". He can cease to worry since his contribution to Manifesta, in any case, looks very sturdy. This does not make it any more persuasive, however.

Frankfurter Kunstverein, until 25 August. jdv

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