The Underwater Museum of Cannes, Jason de Caires Taylor’s latest project, has opened in Cannes, France. The sculptor’s first installation in the Mediterranean Sea, the museum was funded by the Mairie de Cannes and commissioned by mayor David Lisnard. It has taken more than four years to develop.
The installation—situated just off the coast of Cannes, near the island of Sainte-Marguerite, one of the Lérins Islands—comprises a series of six monumental sculptures, each more than six-and-a-half feet tall and weighing 10 tons. Positioned in areas of white sand, between Posidonia seagrass meadows, off the protected southern part of the island, the artworks are in just 6–10 feet of water and therefore easily accessible to snorkelers and divers.
The six works are based on portraits of members of the local community, with a range of ages and professions, including an 80-year-old local fisherman called Maurice and a nine-year-old primary school pupil called Anouk. Each face is sectioned into two parts, depicting a “split mask,” a metaphor for the ocean: on the one hand, powerful and resilient; on the other, fragile and decaying—continuously degraded and polluted by human activity.
The project involved removing old engines and pipelines littering the site, which is now cordoned off from boats, making it safe for divers and snorkellers, and preventing damage by anchors to the seagrass meadows. The artworks use pH-neutral materials designed to attract marine flora and fauna.
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