Engineered to go to Sea


In the 1990s, Panamarenko explored the mysteries of the sea. He devised craft and equipment to dive more rapidly and to float with greater stability. However functional and ingenious this work is, aesthetics and adventure still came first and foremost. The first real water device was a sophisticated diving suit, intended for walking over the gentle slopes of the seabed. Panamarenko tested The Portuguese Man of War on the Maldives in 1990, as can be seen in the colour picture that completes this installation. To gauge the depth of the sea, in 1992 he designed the Grote elleboog (Big Elbow), his first deep-sea diving device. The Monocedo is a helicopter which, thanks to two floats, can take off and land anywhere. On a metal axle between the two floats is a wooden seat for the pilot. In 1999 several lines of research came together: Panamarenko built an imposing flying boat on 8 elongated floats and powered by aircraft engines. This, the Scotch Gambit, was his biggest creation, and was based on two sketches from his early years (dated 1966 and 1970).

'Only for pleasure and beauty' - Panamarenko

Panamarenko has made some radically intelligent and peace-loving art. In 1968 he typed a 3-page text, folded stencilled copies of it and put them in envelopes which he distributed in the course of an action. The title says it all: Reservaat: Eksperimenteel Centrum voor Vrije Samenleving (Reservation: Experimental Centre for Free Cohabitation). The first line is very expressive too: Voorstel tot het bekomen van een stuk grond, vrij van handel en industrie (Proposal for the acquisition of a piece of land free of trade and industry). For this purpose, energy is the first requirement, and that can be derived from wind and water power. This proposal interweaves nature, modernity and a light touch. Airships collide cheerfully in the air, the residents themselves provide a closed-circuit radio and television system, and fruit and vegetables and exotic and native animals go together with homes in practical materials where everyone will take care of themselves. Omdat een gezamelijk tewerkstelling altijd konflikten teweeg brengt (Because collective employment always leads to conflict). This quest for a free space is also expressed in The Aeromodeller and Scotch Gambit. Panamarenko conceived both craft as mobile homes in which to be able to travel around freely.

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