Thursday, December 12th, 2019

Bottoms up! – Quirky artist creates yacht with a permanent sinking feeling

Published on November 16, 2011 by   ·   No Comments

NO need for a mayday call or the coastguard – this boat might look like it’s sinking but actually it’s on a very even keel.

‘Love Love’, the quaintly named ship, has been designed by French artist Julien Bethier to look like she is perpetually sinking. Bethier is known for his humorous works which often have underlying serious social commentary.

With Love Love he wanted to create an ambiguous image which predominantly confused the onlooker – he certainly did that!

“People never really know what to think when they see it for the first time,” says Berthier, “I wanted to freeze the moment just a few seconds before the boat disappears, creating an endless vision of the dramatic moment. It’s completely functional and perfectly safe, you can even steer it from the upside-down seat I have installed.”

The idea for Love Love came to Berthier in 2007 when he found the wrecked boat in the postcard-perfect marina town of Granville in Normandy, northern France. Love Love had rested there, quite unloved, for several years and was awaiting her inevitable destruction.

However, once Berthier explained his plans to her owner, Odile Moulin, she was ‘rescued’ and the transformation began.

Cut into two, sealed with fibreglass, keel modified, seat added, two electrical motors positioned underneath and Love Love became a safe, if not utterly bizarre, leisure object. She is surprisingly stable and, despite the obvious poor hydrodynamic design, pleasantly manoeuvrable in calm waters.

It took a quirk of fate to catapult Love Love onto centre stage. In 2008 she travelled to Drift 08, an art exhibition staged on London’s River Thames. By complete coincidence, it faced the Lehman Brothers building in Canary Wharf ’s financial district during the days of the famous bank’s dramatic collapse – a photo opportunity that the Press was quick to jump on. Overnight, Love Love became a striking and symbolic image of the crisis.

Drift 08’s curator, Caroline Jones, managed to put a positive spin on it and was quoted in the London Evening Standard as saying: “I always thought that the capsizing yacht is an optimistic piece because it never sinks.”

And indeed Berthier agrees, “Of course it is a wrecked ship but at the same time it never sinks and is functioning in its dramatic position.”

So Love Love wasn’t just the image of a collapsing world, it was also the image of a world that still goes on regardless of its fall.

There’s just one problem. London formed part of Love Love’s successful mini European tour but Berthier had to tackle one gripe everywhere he went – the Good Samaritan mayday raiser.

Despite religiously forewarning coastguards wherever Love Love goes, someone always rings 999 to report a sinking ship.


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