Sinking boat sold as art piece

After French artist, Julien Berthier, designed a boat which appears to be sinking, but in fact is perfectly buoyant and seaworthy, it was “sold to a collector very quickly when shown for the first time in a gallery in London,” he says. “The collector stores the boat and lends it for shows. I sail it whenever I can when it is shown, but it is rather rare.”

Not a sailor himself, Berthier explains the motivation behind his unusual work of art called Love Love: “I wanted to freeze the action just a few seconds before the boat disappears, creating an endless vision of the dramatic moment.

“However, it’s completely functional and perfectly safe. You can even steer it from the upside-down seat I have installed. In calm waters it’s really easy to manoeuvre although in choppy waters can be a bit harder.

“I wanted to create an ambiguous image where in the end the viewer doesn’t really know what to think about what he sees. It sinks but doesn’t, it is dramatic yet an absurd image, looks dangerous but is really safe.”

The eye-catching yacht causes quite a stir when she ventures out. A trip to Lake Constance in Germany ended with more than 20 people being mobilised to ‘rescue’ Berthier. “The police, firemen and harbour masters were all aware that it was a piece of art. But despite this warning, calls for help kept coming in until someone unaware of the situation picked up one of the calls, sending out people to rescue a never sinking boat,” he says.

“People never really know what to think when they see it for the first time. I like taking the boat out because it’s important to me that the public gets to see my work out there in everyday life before it ends up in museums and galleries.”

Berthier originally found the boat as a wreck in Normandy, France, where she had been for years.

“Its owner, Odile Moulin, gave it to me for a new life after I explained the project to her. I worked on site, on a boat yard. The boat was cut in two, sealed with fibreglass, and the keel was slightly modified and repositioned,” he explains. “A seat was built according to the boat’s new position and two electrical motors where placed underneath to propel the boat. The boat is surprisingly stable and, despite its poor hydrodynamic qualities, is very well manoeuvrable in calm waters.”

A work of art or a potential for wasted emergency resources? What do you think?

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