If you’ve ever watched footage of man-made structures now underwater, you might find that the juxtaposition creates a certain tension and a certain beauty thanks to the way that the insides of shipwrecked vessels seem transformed, or how sunken buildings can look like a relic of an altogether different civilization. The same is true for works of art — but what about art that’s designed to be situated underwater?
That’s the concept behind a new underwater museum situated off the coast of Cannes, France. A recent article by Nadja Sayej at Architectural Digest provides more context: the sculptures used the images of local residents and were placed there to draw attention to the increasingly perilous conditions of the Mediterranean and the world’s oceans. The sculptures themselves were designed to not harm the environment around them — they were built with pH-neutral material.
The artist is Jason deCaires Taylor, who specializes in these underwater installations and whose work interfaces with the environment around it like literally nothing else out there.
There’s a secondary effect to the presence of the sculptures in the waters near Cannes as well: deCaires Taylor hopes that the lack of boats nearby will cause more seagrass to grow, thus bolstering the ecosystem. Lowering massive statues into the water isn’t normally seen as an environmental act, but sometimes the most unexpected gestures can have dramatic results.
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