June 14, 2010

Cancún and Isla Mujeres Underwater Art Museum

The Silent Revolution

The picture above is entitled 'The Silent Revolution' by Jason de Caires Taylor. At first glance, it may appear as people trudging slowly over a strange, barren landscape, while the sky above casts a heavy, blue glow. However, there is something very different about this artwork. For a start, the ground is the seabed. The bizarre blueness is explained once you realise that it is all the Caribbean Sea. This is concept art and the finished product will be underwater.

The figures are life-sized sculptures, their faces cast from real life people living in the Yucatan today. They are shown as a progression of the historical population of Mexico. Some are in the dress of the earliest settlers of Mexico; others clothed as the Maya or the Aztecs or the Spanish Conquistadors or the 19th century revolutionaries or any other period that you care to mention. Those at the front are modern people; some have been cast from the faces of international tourists.

'The Silent Revolution' is currently being installed, in the strait between Cancún and Isla Mujeres. It is just one of a series of intricate and immense artwork being lowered into place there, creating the largest underwater art display in the world. The whole project will eventually consist of 400 sculptures, occupying 150 square meters of ocean floor. It began in November 2009 and will continue being added to until 2012; then it will remain as a permanent, 120 ton exhibition.

Some sculptures have already been secured into place:

La Jardinera de la Esperanza (The Gardener of Hope)

El Coleccionista de los Sueños Perdidos (The Archive of Lost Dreams)

Hombre en Llamas (Man on Fire)

The sculptures are more than just beautiful works of art. They have an important environment purpose too. They are especially created from materials which enable natural coral growth. The marine life that ordinarily clings to reefs will also form around this artwork; an attribute which is vital in an area where the coral reefs have been damaged over time. They provide somewhere for this life to cling onto. In turn, the marine life changes each sculpture, as flora forms upon it and fish, shrimp and other creatures teem around it.

Moreover, the sculptures lift the pressure from the entirely natural reefs. Tourists, snorkelers, divers and fishers may well choose to visit the art, instead of the coral. The sight is just as stunning and the fish are the same, only the foundation is less fragile. With fewer visitors than before, the actual coral reef is given a chance to repair and heal.

All in all, Jason de Caires Taylor's vision has grown from a magical concept into a wonderful, life-saving, stunning reality. To see more, please visit his site.

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