PARIS.- Jean Painlevé (1902- 1989), considered a pioneer of scientific cinema, made more than two hundred films. At first Painlevé was looked down upon by the scientific community, which considered cinema unworthy or inadequately serious as a tool for inquiry. Yet he was soon noticed by the Surrealists, who admired the evocative formal vision of his films. Painlevés universe contains rich, interconnected elements that are often misunderstood: The intersection between art and science, the documentary tool adopted as a fictional delimitation of the natural, the political (in his antifascist engagement). Another under-considered aspect of Painlevés output is his side fabrication of commercial products, from fabric to wallpaper and jewelry stamped with the obsessive iconography of his films, such as seahorses, seaweed, and shrimp.
In 1934, Jean Painlevé founded the Club des Sous lEau (The Underwater Club) with captain Yves le Prieur. The association, made up of amateur adventure enthusiasts, inventors, artists and treasure-hunters, was dedicated to the promotion and development of techniques for filming and photographing underwater. The first diving club in the world, the group participated in the discovery and domestification of an underwater wilderness that had been until then completely unexplored.
In 2012, like hermit crabs investigating the empty shell of an old gastropod, a group of people (artists, curators, musicians, researchers, designers) reactivated the Club des Sous lEau by organizing evening meetings in bars, diving baptisms, screenings, conferences and concerts. The club became a means of testing the methodologies of an experiment; an exhibition would be only one of the possible results of this experiment. The cinematic tool and the exhibition are envisaged here as metaphors of each other: These instruments for the display and classification of the real are both technological devices intending to conserve the natural kingdom that they themselves supplant. Today, the crystallized ruins of this disappeared world sleep in subaquatic depths. To resurface into the present, they are waiting for a pearl- diver to reassemble their poetics anew.
With: Louis Boutan, Jean Comandon, Louis de Corlieu, Ligia Dias, Stéphane Devidal, Philippe Halsman, Geneviève Hamon, Marie Jager, Sachin Kaeley, Yves Le Prieur, Genêt Mayor, Christian Newby, Noyade (Lemoine & Minkkinen), Jean Painlevé, Pierre Paulin, Bruno Persat, Mary Ping, Florian & Michael Quistrebert, Clément Rodzielski, Analia Saban, We Are The Painters, Pedro Wirz (with the collaboration of Christian Rothmaler) and Gerda Åkesson