designboom did a very special ‘studio visit’ in the lagoon of maldives island sirru fen fushi, and documented the sculptural installation ‘coralarium’ under construction. the underwater art museum by artist jason decaires taylor will make for spectacular snorkelling and diving and will offer visitors a unique, cultural eco-art attraction whilst creating the foundations of an artificial reef to enhance the underwater ecosystem.
the sculpture ‘coralarium’ is situated in the centre of the largest developed coral lagoon in the maldives, on the island resort of fairmont maldives sirru fen fushi. it’s the sole hotel on the pristine atoll, and its previously untouched location has allowed marine life to flourish, with manta rays, turtles, large pods of bottlenose dolphins and spinner dolphins regular visitors in the crystal-clear waters of the 600- hectare lagoon.
when designboom decided to spend 4 days with the artist to document the project, the ‘coralarium’ building still must be assembled under water, made of marine grade stainless steel and polished to a high gloss, to reflect the sun’s rays and the environment. importantly for the fragile environment, fairmont maldives sirru fen fushi is home to maldives’ first coral regeneration project.
‘as the location for the maldives’ first underwater art installation we hope to raise awareness that encourages long-term reef protection and sustainable tourism’, says denis dupart, general manager of fairmont maldives sirru fen fushi.
the underwater realm of the installation includes a series of children looking up towards the surface of the sea posing questions about the threat of climate change and sea levels rising and the consequences for future generations. overall the installation aims to draw all the elements of life on earth together, to portray a system where all components are dependant on each other, humans and the environment in coexistence, a levelling of relationships.
the ‘coralarium’ is a special challenge for taylor because, unlike his previous museums, it is actually a building and he is building it himself, but the development is more difficult than expected. sirru fen fushi is located in the northern shaviyani atoll, over an hour’s flight from the capital malé, and all the equipment and machinery needed to build the museum has to be transported to the remote island with great complications. if something unforeseen happens – and it does it all the time – the supply of materials and tools is correspondingly time-consuming.
the previous week to our visit saw heavy storms, which is why the timetable is now lagging behind and entered the month of fasting – ramadan – which is taken very seriously in the strictly muslim country. as it turns out, the workers observe the religious practice, and from early hours until sunset, they do not consume any food or drink fluids. especially when working as a diver, this is not particularly beneficial.
‘when the owners contacted me about a year ago, I proposed an architecture project with an area of twelve by twelve and a height of six meters – a gallery exposed to the tides. we will have sculptures on the roof that correspond to the sky and the atmosphere. and sculptures inside, partly in the water, and there are some that are completely submerged. something like a zoo with human creatures, who are put in a cage for the sea creatures to admire.’ jason decaires taylor
also, a few months ago, one of the workers shot a photo of the sculptures and then uploaded it to his facebook page. this picture made its rounds and led to the rumor, that sirru fen fushi would build a temple in the sea. only a clarifying appointment in parliament could save the ‘coralarium’ in a country, that has so far been without any art museum. it has been difficult to convince the administration of the need for an underwater museum, full of sculptures, given that ‘sunni islam’, which is predominantly practiced in the maldives, actually prohibits sculpture…
the sculptures themselves are hybrid forms, part-human, part-plant, part-coral. the organic forms are based on endemic species of the island and its surrounding reefs; banyan trees, screw pines, strangler ivy, mushroom and staghorn corals. many of the works feature root systems, symbolic of the dependence of humans on the natural environment a connection to place. white calcium coral, formed of bones ingrained into the surface of works, aims to show how the reef is part of the maldivian DNA.
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Source URL: Google News