Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Art Show For Divers Only - Florida Keys


Take in a photo show by one of the world’s top photographers,
Don’t forget a 5-minute stop after exiting the exhibition

 from Diver Magazine & on-line at Huffington Post 

Divers install a photo illustration on the Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, a 523-foot-long former U.S.A.F.  missile-tracking ship that was scuttled in 2009 as an artificial reef seven miles south of Key West in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
By Stephen Weir

It is an international happening -- an art show that will have you holding your breath -- but only for so long. People in-the-know who have a C-card and the willingness to swim with big fishes, have been making underwater pilgrimages this spring in the Florida Keys to see the hidden work of Austrian artist Andreas Franke.

Considered one of the 200 best photographers in the world, Franke has once again taken his art underwater in the new show: The Sinking World – The Vandenberg Project #2. This is the fourth  time that he has put together a composite photography exhibition that can only be seen wreck diving!

The photographer’s newest underwater art exhibition has been installed on the wreck of the 523-foot Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, lying in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary about 10kms south of Key West. The exhibition went up on the 1st of April and runs till the end of July 2016.

In early April, divers from the Artificial Reefs International Preservation Trust installed a dozen photo illustrations on the Vandenberg's weathered deck, more than 30m below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. The pictures will stay affixed to the coral covered Vandenberg until the end of July.
 A diver examines an Andreas Franke photograph illustration. Picture taken in April on the Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, a 523-foot-long former U.S. Air Force missile-tracking ship 
Andreas Franke’s photographs are encased in plexiglass and mounted in stainless steel frames sealed with silicone. They are a continuation of the artist's "Sinking World" series, which he debuted on the Vandenberg in 2011 shortly after the world’s second largest artificial reef was sunk.  In 2013 a second exhibition was installed on the wreck of the Mohawk, an artificial reef off Fort Myers, Florida in the Lee County wreck preserve.
After 3-months on hull of Mohawk! Photo by Stephen Weir

In the 2016 exhibition Franke has manipulated photographs that depict a flamboyant era of European style and cultural history against the backdrop of a sunken coral encrusted warship. Among visuals are women gossiping over a picnic and other ladies engaged in a leisurely stroll twirling umbrellas across the deck of the sunken WW2 troop carrier (and later missile tracking ship) Vandenberg.
Franke image exhibited on the Mohawk in 2013
Franke toured and photographed the Vandenberg prior to the ship being sunk to create an artificial reef.  He also has photographs of the Vandenberg after she went down.

Working with these images in his Vienna studio he subsequently photographed costumed models to photograph dream-like sequences, which were mashed with the original photographs of the ship. He has created ghostly apparitions and whimsical views of the sunken warship.

Off Key West the Vandenberg has become an underwater version of the Flying Dutchman -- a ship, a crew and somehow some pretty female passengers doomed to sail the seas underwater eternally.

Divers swim by a Franke  photo illustration Sunday, April 3, 2016, on the wreck of the  Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, 
"During their time at sea, the photos will evolve with accumulation of marine life," explains the artist, "which will give them a seaworthy patina and life of their own and ennobles the art work to unique pieces." At the end of this underwater exhibition, "The Sinking World" images will be brought to the surface for display for non-divers to see.

At the wreck site you need scuba gear to make it down to the deck of the ship to see the works. The ship sits at almost 50 metres however Franke’s photographs are hung on the upper decks – 30 metres - well within sport diving limits.   Given the time constraints involved in diving at this depth (about 25-minutes) and since the composite photographs are placed throughout the ship, there is quite a bit of swim time required to take in the whole show.

Seeing this exhibition is a much different experience than contemplating a masterpiece in an air filled museum. The works have only been up for a month but already sea creatures and plant life have attached themselves to the pictures - in time divers will have to sweep off the plant life to see the images.

"That divers clean the art work is not too bad at all," Franke told Diver Magazine during his show previous to the Vandenberg. "As long as they only clean the main part of the images it doesn't bother me a lot. On the contrary, it is finally a part of the whole concept. My work is done as soon as the artwork is fixed on the wreck. Then the ocean and the diver decide how the final image will turn out."

"I am completely fascinated by that mystical underwater world, the very peculiar emptiness and a tragic stillness but also by the shipwrecks. The depth has no big influence at all as long as divers can reach them."

Sidebar Link

There are at least a dozen dive boat operators who visa the wreck of the Vandenberg on a regular basis.

·      dive charter outfits http://www.fla-keys.com/listing.cfm?id=102

·      see a video of the installation https://www.facebook.com/the.sinking.world/

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Selfie taking tourists and drowned refugees are the muses for some of the figures in a new underwater museum in the Canary Islands


Divers take note - Jason deCaires Taylor's Museo Atlantico now open

By Stephen Weir

Underwater sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor just got serious.  The British diving artist who has created large underwater sculpture gardens in the waters of Grenada and Mexico. has just launched a project in the waters of the Canary Islands that acknowledges the plight of boat people.

While his Caribbean sunken galleries have tended to be playful, sometimes religious, the newest project of the 41-year old, skewers important world issues from climate chage to conservation to migration.

Earlier this month he opened the first phase of Museo Atlantico – an art project he describes as “the first underwater contemporary art museum in Europe and the Atlantic Ocean.” There are 300 life-sized figures standing at bottom 14 metres down – more are on the way.

It is still in construction, over 250 more works will be added in the coming year” the artist told Diver Magazine. “It will be complete in January 2017.”

The non-polluting concrete statues are made from casts of real people. And while the models are living beings, the new inhabitants are not.

There is a raft filled with escaping migrants who never will make it to land. The artist says he isn’t eulogizing the dead, but rather shining  a spotlight on their plight.

And what of the tourists taking selfies as they appear to walk along the bottom.  Taylor calls it the  Rubicon where 35 people are walking towards a gate  - it is “ a point of no return or a portal to another world.” (Crossing the Rubicon references Julius Caesar who said in 49 BC that when you cross the Rubicon River you can’t come back – it is the point of no return).

The concrete is striated so that over time the pieces will be covered in plant life and schooling fish will live amongst the art pieces.

“We never interfere with the natural development of the works,” Taylor continued. “The museum is in a protected bay. Each piece is between 1-10 tons, so I am not predicting major disturbance but with you can never be 100% certain with the sea. Obviously the works won't change like it has  in tropical areas (his installations in the Caribbean)  but will still be colonized. Just after two weeks we have seen schools of juvenile fish, 2 angel sharks, several octopus and algae and calcium deposits on the pieces.”
According to the artist the Raft of Lampedusa is  “a harrowing depiction of the ongoing humanitarian crisis, referencing French Romantic painter ThĂ©odore GĂ©ricault's work: The Raft of the Medusa. Drawing parallels between the abandonment suffered by sailors in his shipwreck scene and the current refugee crisis, the work is not intended as a tribute or memorial to the many lives lost but as a stark reminder of the collective responsibiliy of our now global community.”

Taylor says that the main installation, The Rubicon “features a group of 35 people walking towards a gate, a point of no return or a portal to another world.” 

The installation is a commission from the Spanish Government.  The placement in the waters of Lanzarote is already  boosting  tourism and paying dividends.

It was officially opened today (March 2nd), several groups of divers from around Europe came over to be the first people top see the museum,” Taylor told Diver Magazine. ”And on return we were met on shore by the president of the Canary Islands.”

Lanzarote is known for its year-round warm weather, beaches and volcanic landscape. It is the third most populous island of the Canary Islands.

“Not sure quite yet what I will do next. Think large and think deep. I have another underwater project in Bali soon and the possibility of some works in the Med but yes it seems I will be below the waves for some time.”