Basserode - Hécatée / Bateau Mèmoire (1988-  95)
collection FRAC Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur
  Hécatée/Bateau-Mémoire (model) or Creation of matter for thought
  244 x 606 x 70 cm



The gigantic model (more than 6 metres in length) of a boat, consisting of a construction of tubes of grey, synthetic material, is the first embodiment of an ambitious project that marks a new phase in the artist´s work. This project, entitled Hécatée after a Greek geographer who in the XIth century BCE conceived the first elements required for a mapping of the Mediterranean, is exceptional both in its technical and economic implications, and for its intellectual, cultural and relational objectives.

The project Hécatée consists primarily in the invention of a boat that is destined in the near future to cross the Mediterranean, which at the same time will be the vehicle and the receptacle for the "memorial substances" that its crew will collect. This renewable crew will be brought together from a large array of specialists in the representation of the world (geographers, biologists, astrophysicians, philosophers ...), so that for the course and duration of its peregrinations the boat will become a depository of knowledge, memories, and of the languages spoken on board.

Here we rediscover a dialectic of the container and the contained that is so dear to the artist. The hull of the boat is formed of cylindrical containers that hold the "substances" which the crew will collect in order to reconstruct the strata of the memory of programmed nomadism. For this purpose, Hécatée is structured like a vast mobile container, where the "memorial substances" are sorted according to their density and their physical volume: the heavy elements will be placed in the bottom of the boat, whereas fragile documents will be stacked inside, where they are protected.

The beauty of the project lies in the confrontation of the utopian and metaphoric dimensions with the technical challenges of its realisation. The first stage of the work, which has led to the construction of the mock-up, is completed. The project is technically feasible both in terms of its structural design and its seafaring qualities. The project Hécatée has already begun to fulfil its purpose in crystallising energies, knowledge and imagination.

Jean-Marc Réol (extract), in Art Press, no. 215, 1996