Joël Dupuch’s billet-doux to the lusty mollusk
“Eating oysters is like kissing the sea on the lips,” the French poet Léon-Paul Fargue once wrote. In his ode to the aphrodisiacal mollusk, creative director Sergio Penzo traveled to the Arcachon coast in south-west France to capture the working day of famed sixth-generation oyster farmer and actor Joël Dupuch.
“I think of Joël as the Gérard Depardieu of oyster culture”
“The work of the oyster culture is very lonely,” muses San Sebastian filmmaker Penzo, who as one half of Panthalassa alongside director Douglas Guillot documents the magnetism of the ocean through an ongoing series of films. “Dupuch is a bit like [the titular character from Hemingway’s] The Old Man and the Sea. I think of him as the Gérard Depardieu of oyster culture.”
While an oyster is usually devoured on an impulse, says Dupuch, regarding the unique aspect of the marine phylum, it takes four years of dedicated attention by the farmers to enable it to bloom to maturity.
“The ocean has an effect on people, it makes you meditate”
“Joël has all this time to contemplate and think about the world around us,” says Penzo. “It is the same when you’re traveling and suddenly see the world differently. The ocean has that effect on people, it makes you meditate.”
Shirine Saad is a writer and editor based in New York.