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Taking art to new depths

Around 300 human sculptures have been deployed 14 metres beneath the Atlantic Ocean to form a new underwater museum, called Museo Atlantico. Situated in the clear blue waters off the coast of Lanzarote, one of Spain’s Canary Islands, the museum opens to the public today and is accessible to snorkelers and divers.

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British artist and naturalist Jason deCaires Taylor designed the eco-friendly statues to draw sea creatures and create artificial reefs. The museum, which hopes to encourage marine life to flourish in the area and attract tourists away from fragile natural reefs, is also designed to draw attention to the world’s most relevant problems today and raise awareness of the plight of the oceans.

One of the museum’s most harrowing installations, the Raft of Lampedusa, highlights the ongoing refugee crisis. A crowd of refugees are pictured sailing across the ocean with the hopes of reaching a safer place. One of them appears to be gripping a life jacket, another placing his hand on a friend’s back, and a child is seen leaning over the raft with her chin in her palm.

The sculpture references French Romantic painter Théodore Géricault’s work, The Raft of the Medusa, which depicts the raft’s shipwrecked sailors fighting for their lives. “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 responsibility of our now global community,” the artist says.

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One of the main installations, The Rubicon, features a group of 35 people with eerily realistic anatomical features walking towards a gate, a point of no return or a portal to another world. The project also includes a sunken botanical garden.

The sculptures are situated on an area of 2,500 square metres of flat sandy seabed that is sheltered from strong currents. They have been built to last around 300 years.

The photos are courtesy of Jason DeCaires Taylor

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