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Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art

Jean Painlevé. Science is Fiction. Collection of short films, 1925-1986

Painlevé managed to create scandal in both the scientific and cinematographic worlds with a cinema designed to both entertain and educate. He endowed seahorses, vampire bats and skeleton shrimps with human traits – erotic, comical, and savage. As a maverick scientific documentary filmmaker, one of the first to plunge underwater with a camera in order to bring the subaquatic world to the screen, Painlevé captured the throes of a male seahorse giving

birth, the geometric choreography of crystal formation, and the mating habits of hermaphrodite molluscs. All his aquatic specimens, from octopus to sea urchin, were found off the coast of Brittany, where the French artist had a studio. His lyrical and instructive animal behaviour films set to avant-garde music were much admired by Surrealist contemporaries such as Antonin Artaud, Luis Buñuel, and Jean Vigo.