Louise Hervé & Chloé Maillet
opening — 21 September 2017
It is a scientific fact that human beings know more about the solar system than the marine depth. For their first solo exhibition in Italy at Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, the artist duo Louise Hervé & Chloé Maillet reveal important discoveries about the ocean water. After a long research on aquatic wildlife the artists present Un Passage d’eau a film unfolding its story at the crossroads of history and science fiction.
Exploring aquatic fantasies, fictional marine creatures and the future of human eternity underwater, Un Passage d’eau is built around three narratives, aiming at uncovering and documenting the imagination of the water as objects and bodies’ conservation source. The setting is a sea resort on the Atlantic coast in France where a group of subaquatic archaeologists is looking for the remains of ancient shipwrecks, and trying to preserve what they find from corrosion; a spa proposes its clients to rejuvenate with the help of seawater treatments; meanwhile, a mysterious group of retired people are set on finding the way to eternal life. The film proceeds on ellipses and dichotomies where its own characters, in the manner of symbolic figures from ancient mythology (such as nymphs, Cyclops or sirens…), justify the tracks taken from the theoretical and iconographic collection of the authors as well as the assumed fantasy established within the synopsis of the film. Luoise and Chloe’s film addresses issues of anthropocentrism and post-humanity by implicitly raising the question: does the future of humanity lie underwater?
By using texts, performances and films, the duo has been working together in Paris since 2000 pursuing long-term research-based projects, often focused on historical reconstruction, pseudoscientific archaeology and science fiction. Their scenarios establish consistency between speculation around mythologies, proposed solutions to impasses of science, and surveys around a field to study, making their films rather stages of exploration than a plausible answer. Without proposing any final conclusion, Un Passage d’eau questions one of the most burning fear of human beings today: what will be the price to pay in the future, for humanity longevity?
The workshop takes its title from a 1965 Jacques Tourneur film, which quoted Edgar Allan Poe’s famous Poem The City in the Sea. It will focus on the collective elaboration of a performance based on the research material gathered during the preparation of our film The Waterway.
Some 18th century theories regarding sea change and increasing sea level have led writers, like Benoît de Maillet, to imagine our past life as fishmen. These theories have been re-interpreted through a series of science fiction film depicting fishmen and other myths concerning underwater worlds and sunken cities such as Atlantis and Ys. The workshop will include a talk with a subaquatic life specialist interested in the interactions between human beings and bottlenose dolphin whose conservation is dramatically endangered by human proximity. The workshop explores underwater archaeology and the imaginary of eternal subaquatic life in relation to the conflicting reality between the human and non-human world in the Mediterranean area.
Robert Filliou once said – Art is what makes life more interesting than art.
For this workshop, we will introduce our work method as a duo: we believe that it is sometimes necessary to step aside from the artistic references, take a closer look to the scientific world, and see how art can interfere.
We have a double goal: the first is to experience, together with the participants of our workshop, different perspectives about subaquatic biodiversity starting from an environmental and biological perspective, including research on human and non-human life cycle along with aging and preservation. Reason why we’ll visit the aquarium in Genova, and meet with a marine biology researcher.
Secondly, we’d like to try and imagine together with the participants of the workshop, how to transmit this experience through a performance.
This workshop is connected to the film we produced in 2014 The Waterway that narrates the story of a group of people reinventing themselves as eternal aquatic creatures.
LOUISE HERVÉ and CHLOÉ MAILLET both live and work in Paris. Their practice centres on the staging of various forms of speech. By weaving together historical fact, autobiographical data or excerpts from science-fiction films and didactic books, they build narratives and stories which amalgamate relevant coincidences from the past, as well as foretell the future. Solo exhibitions include the Kunsthal Aarhus (2016), Vancouver Contemporary Art Gallery (2013) Kunstverein Braunschweig (2012); Centre d’art contemporain la Synagogue de Delme (2012); Kunsthaus Glarus (2012); and FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, Reims (2011). Group presentations include Liverpool Biennal, UK (2014), CAC Vilnius (2014) Oxford Moden Art, UK (2013), La Triennale de Paris, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2012); Centre d’art contemporain de Genève (2011).