Tara Méditerranée: when art meets science

© N.Pansiot/Tara Expéditions

From May to November 2014, 11 artists from very different backgrounds have been successively in residence aboard Tara during the Tara Mediterranean expedition. Visual artists, photographers, video makers, and even illustrators shared the lives of the sailors and the scientists, who conducted a 7-months scientific analysis on plastic pollution in the Mediterranean sea. Their works will be exhibited in Paris in a few months.

Tara is now in Lorient, in the shipyard until March 2015, giving us the occasion to revisit these artists and their artistic works about Tara Mediterranean.

In chronological order onboard Tara:

“I realized that the people on board are both very independent and very connected”

- Yoann Lelong, French, 30 years old, in residence between the Embiez and Antibes in June 2014.

“While filming, I realized that the people on board are both very independent and at the same time very connected. They listen to each other; it’s quite impressive. Everyone knows what to do, people trust each other, and something quite natural is created. For me the boat is not a natural thing. I was surprised to see that in this confined space, everyone quickly finds his place.

There was one particular moment that marked me. We were out at sea collecting samples, and the water was very calm. It was foggy, and then we saw some dolphins. There was a very special atmosphere – almost dreamlike – that suddenly highlighted lots of things on board.  Everyone seemed extremely bonded and at the same time, as is often the case in these moments, it was electric, there was some nervousness, as if we were wired.”

His work focuses on the quest for identity, a dive within oneself that paradoxically operates thanks to the encounter with the other. Discover his photographs and his interview held during the expedition.


“Art under his skin”

- Spencer Lowell, American, 30 years old, in residence between Antibes and Cala Gonone (Italy) in July 2014

“Difficult to pass in review Spencer Lowell’s dozens of weird tattoos – poetic, funny or metaphysical.  One last question for this very creative artist: if you decided to get a tattoo after your voyage aboard Tara, what would you choose? After a few seconds of reflection, the answer is surprising, as often with Spencer Lowell: the inflatable plastic crocodile captured a few days ago when we were at sea, floating in the middle of the sea. And when asked why this strange choice, the answer, said with a grin, was of course the same as for almost every one of his tattoos: “Why not?”

The works of Spencer Lowell pair scientific pragmatism with an unbridled creative energy. A native of Southern California, the saturated color stories of sunshinedrenched days, turquoise oceans and infinite cloudless skies are etched into Lowell’s aesthetic. Discover his interview during Tara Mediterranean.


“The schooner as a theatre stage”

- Lorraine Féline, French, 33 years old, in residence between Cala Gonone (Italy) and Athens in July 2014

“My project was to make a film on board Tara. I wanted to observe the boat like the stage of a theater,  regard the movements, gestures, the activity of everyone aboard the boat. All these movements could intersect, take place at the same time, and this creates a kind of choreography. This is an independent project, an independent film that could be shown at a festival or art center.”

Lorraine Féline danced ballet for years. It influenced her carrera as a visual artist. Her artistic research seems hard to achieve: representing movement. Discover her joint interview with Carly Streinbrunn, artist onboard Tara with Lorraine Féline.


“An imaginary voyage”

- Carly Steinbrunn, French, 32 years old, in residence between Cala Gonone (Italy) and Athens in July 2014

“I discovered Tara from other artists who were on board, and then I was able to visit the schooner in Paris a year or two ago. It was then that my project really materialized. This resembled almost a type of dream, in the sense of everything related to the unknown, relative to the boat, navigation, the fact of traveling, of leaving. It’s an experience that is truly unique and rare.

I am developing a project inspired by the journey taken by the French astronomer Jules Janssen to photograph the passage of Venus across the sun in 1874. For my project, developed in partnership with the French Society of Photography, I am particularly interested in old techniques developed at the time, and the problems of movement and recording of such an event. I am trying to make a kind of preliminary sketch book, partly on Tara.”

Carly’s work is composed of several parts that will transform into a book and pictures. Each part will represent a typology, a study of physical phenomena and movements (waves, clouds, stars, bird flight etc), landscapes and different marine species. It is a fictive reconstitution of Jules Jansen’s voyage in 1874 to take pictures of  the Venus transit in Japan. Discover the artist’s biography.


“In black and white”

- Emmanuel Régent, French, 41 years old, in residence between Athens and Beirut in August 2014

« During my stay onboard Tara, I wish to establish a protocole favouring drawing, which seems to be the adequate way for me to develop a new series onboard. After my series representing waiting queues, crowds, I wish to draw a series of islands, maybe the ones in Greece that are the starting points of many founding myths”.

Emmanuel has decided to draw islands, pieces of land between sky and sea, as well as deteriorated sites in Beirut in order to create his own data base and continue his research on the subject. Discover his work in video.


“The harbors painter”

- Christian Revest, French, 66 years old, in residence between Cyprus and Bizerta (Tunisia) in September 2014

“I decided to spend time onboard Tara in order to draw, sketch, paint watercolors and take pictures to document life onboard, the encounters in the different ports and the different places we’ve been to (industrial, touristic) to create a gage of images in order to paint a series of paintings when I come back home, around the lives of the poeple living on the coasts.”

Christian has already painted a series of paintings that have been exhibited at the Société Nautique de Marseille in December 2014. Discover his beautiful paintings online.


“Like a child”

- Lola Reboud, French, 32 years old, in residence between Bizerta (Tunisia) and Marseilles (France) in September 2014

“I am in residence aboard Tara between Bizerte and Marseille during the month of September, which corresponds to the period of the equinoxes*. Before leaving, I wrote a project with the same name dedicated to the color blue of the Mediterranean Sea. Even though I’m basically a photographer, I’m also making a sea map, and a video.

This blue color is seen in variations of the chromatic and climatic spectrum. Photos are taken in the morning, noon and evening. I then plan to design a map based on the information collected by scientists, that is, the digitized data, because today that’s how cartography is done. I then have to find the most appropriate graphic modeling, in 2D or 3D.”

Lola is currently working on a video, pictures and a marine map. Discover her fisrt pictures or read her interview onboard.


“Hybrid cultures”

- Katia Kameli, French-Algerian, 41 years old, in residence between Algiers and Marseilles in Spetember 2014

Video maker and photographer, she works on the “inbetweenness” and to her, plankton colonisation on plastic fits this theme. That is why she embarked onboard Tara between Algiers and Marseilles. Discover more about the artist’s work (in French). 


“A writer onboard”

- Clémence Lesacq, French, 23 years old, in residence between Marseilles and Naples in October 2014

This summer, Clémence Lesacq won the Tara prize of the Libération-Apaj writing contest. The theme this year was “On the road and the paths”.

Discover one of the chronicles she sent us during her stay onboard Tara.


“Father and son aboard Tara”

- Christian and Noé Sardet, French, in residence between Athens and Beirut and then between Naples and Barcelona

They made videos about animals that are barely visible to the naked eye in the Plankton Chronicles. They were reunited onboard during one leg, to take pictures and film plankton entangled with plastic. They agreed to be filmed while working. Joint portrait of a father and  his son, in two parts.


“The mission around plastic gives me the basis for my woe onboard”

- Sylvain Couzinet Jacques, French, 31 years old, in residence between Saint Tropez and Barcelona in October 2014

“Aboard Tara, nothing is obvious. How to describe the experience of being on board, living on the boat? How to explain the mission which is the real value of the schooner – the scientists who day and night collect samples of water and organisms contaminated by plastic particles? Being an artist-in-residence offers the immense privilege of observing, and imposes the simple obligation of evoking the whole experience. The Mediterranean Sea, its beautiful landscapes and calm appearance, the plastic and pollution, the scientific quest that must constantly be renewed and invent new paradigms. The sailors are totally committed to the expedition, and Tara is a unique boat. I want to honor the friendship that has arisen between us. I have to do something that will be recognized by them, that speaks of the Tara experience and the Mediterranean mission.”

 Discover his interview onboard.


“I was impressed by the sailor’s way of looking at things”

- Malik Nejmi, French-Moroccan, in residence between Barcelona and Tangiers (Morocco) in November 2014

When asked to describe himself in a few words, he chooses these: poet – a good listener – between two countries. Malik Nejmi is certainly all of these, but he boarded Tara as a photographer between Barcelona and Tangier. For a week, the artist shared his  enthusiasm with the crew, never losing a moment to photograph what he was observing on deck, with a new vision of things.

Discover the artist’s portrait.