PAHAMA, Spitsbergen, Nova Zemblaya



Object, 600 x 210 x 370 cm.
Materials: steel, plexiglas, engine, generator, video camera, monitor, switchboard

Collection: Collection Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, Paris.

"My mother didn't like this submarine. She said: 'Can't you make anything nice anymore?'  And I said: 'But it's a beauty!'  'No', she said, 'nobody's going to think that that's pretty'.  I answered: 'The whole world thinks it's beautiful', and she says: 'Yeah, they dare not think otherwise!' (roaring laughter) ... You couldn't invent that kind of joke if you tried! " - Panamarenko

Panamarenko had always wanted to build a submarine to take to the open seas and defy any storm.  His ultimate purpose was to use this craft to journey to the Far North.  Nonetheless, it took until the middle of the 19990s before the project really got under way.  When one day out walking around the port of Antwerp he saw a green-painted 17 KW diesel engine in a supplier's window, he knew he'd seen the perfect power source for his underwater adventure.

The form of the submarine that Panamarenko wished to build around that motor, finds its origin in an earlier work from 1967, called Walvis (Whale): 'I once made a model for a whale, and even then I thought: that's really a lumbering, square box where you could easily stand up in, this kind of whale.  It would be good for a little submarine, because I didn't want anything big, but still wanted to be able to stand, because at sea it lasts too long if you have to just keep sitting all the time... ' - Panamarenko

(source: Hans Willemse and Paul Morrens, in: 'Copyright Panamarenko', 2005)

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