Swimmers in the Canary Islands can forget their fear of sharks for now and replace it with apprehension of different oceanic denizens. Nearly 46 feet below the waves lurks a shadowy platoon of people, trudging along the seabed like water-breathing zombies.
These unsettling sculptures are part of the new Museo Atlantico, an underwater “museum” near the Canary island of Lanzarote off the coast of Morocco. They were built by Jason deCaires Taylor, a British artist, environmentalist, and diving instructor who’s installed other sunken hordes in Cancun and Grenada. (A 60-ton girl he created in the Bahamas, who appears to hold up the ocean’s surface, is reportedly the “largest single underwater sculpture in the world.”)
Taylor’s latest endeavor opens to the public this week; those with snorkels or diving gear will have the best views (though presumably you could just dunk your head into the ocean, too). The early experience will be much different from what’s to come. Over the years, corals, fish, and other creatures colonize Taylor’s artworks, creating fresh habitat for imperiled wildlife and crazy scenes like this rainbow-crusted face in Mexico:
As well as this flowery, sprouting head in Grenada:
The Lanzarote museum has a number of installations, including figures wielding cameras or taking selfies and a large crowd wandering toward a mysterious gate (The Rubicon). There’s also a paddle-covered cactus and tired-looking people adrift on a small boat (Raft of Lampedusa); here’s more from a press release:
a harrowing depiction of the ongoing humanitarian crisis, referencing French Romantic painter Théodore Géricault’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 responsibility of our now-global community.
Folks wanting to explore this surreal aquatic garden should jump into the Canary Island seas beginning Thursday. Those who can’t attend, or swim, can appreciate these sublime images from the artist.