With over 300 works spread over 12 installations, Europe's first underwater museum has just opened off Lanzarote. Jason deCaires Taylor's Museo Atlantico is a heroic work we've been following for years. In fact, his The Rubicon was even named one of our top 10 art installations of 2016.
And now, the entire structure has been officially inaugurated, with deCaires' work mixing aesthetic beauty and environmental sensibility. Each work is created from marine-grade cement, which encourages new ecosystems. Over time, the sculptures transform into something magical that only the sea can create.
DeCaires speaks to issues of marine ecology with his new piece The Gyre. Consisting of 200 life-size forms in a circular formation, the underwater statue has a poignant message. “The artistic installation reminds us that we have evolved from marine life, and are all subject to the movements and will of the ocean,” deCaires shares with us in an email. “The piece embodies our naked vulnerability to its inherent power, and our fragility in the face of its cycles and immense force. It provides the oxygen we breathe, it regulates our climate and it provides a vital source of nutrition to millions of people.”
Another strong piece in this underwater museum builds on the artist's previous work, The Rubicon. Crossing the Rubicon sees 35 figures pass through an immense wall. Stretching almost 100 feet long, the imposing structure has a single doorway at its center.
“The wall is intended to be a monument to absurdity, a dysfunctional barrier in the middle of a vast fluid, three-dimensional space, which can be bypassed in any direction. It emphasizes that the notions of ownership and territories are irrelevant to the natural world,” the artist explains. “In times of increasing patriotism and protectionism the wall aims to remind us that we cannot segregate our oceans, air, climate or wildlife as we do our land and possessions. We forget we are all an integral part of a living system at our peril.”
With Museo Atlantico, deCaires has not only created Europe's first underwater museum, but has produced a sculptural tour de force that will not easily be replicated.