The World's first semi-submerged Art Gallery "Coralarium" by famous artist Jason deCaires Taylor is being destroyed by Maldivian Government Officials MNDF
When the news reached me I was shocked. I paused my work and was filled with sadness. I felt sad for the Maldives, sad for Art, sad for the Ocean. The Coralarium, a wonderful art piece by one of my favorite artists Jason deCaires Taylor has been ordered to be destroyed on 21 September 2018.
The Coralarium used to be situated in the centre of the largest developed coral lagoon in the Maldives, on the island of Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi. The artwork created by renowned environmental sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor was a semi-submerged tidal gallery space that exhibited a series of sculptural artworks on the skyline, inter-tidal waterline and seabed. A beautiful homage of contemporary environmental art to our oceans has been ordered by the Maldivian Court to be immediately destroyed. A sad example of religious misinterpretation. All hope to safe the artwork is now gone as government officials have arrived on site and are currently taking apart the entire museum with pick axes.
Breaking News: Qanoonaa khilaafah Siirufenfushee ga bahattaafaivaa budhu thah negumuge amalee masahkaiy Dhivehi Raajje ge salaamathee baaruthakun fashaifi. pic.twitter.com/h0m0cwUgXE
— News (@PSMnewsmv) September 21, 2018
On the Coralarium's Facebook Page it reads:
"The Maldivian Government ordered to destroy the Coralarium at Fairmont Maldives, a globally relevant art work by Jason deCaires Taylor, world famous environmental artist. On 21 September 2018 the entire artwork was destroyed by MNDF Military, Police and Law Enforcement with pick axes. The Coralarium represented an artificial reef in a dead lagoon. Within days rare species of fish and crustaceans moved in and populated the sculptures. It was decided by the current President to demolish the entire artwork to “maintain the five pillars of Islam” since the sculptures were considered as idols of worship of other religions while Alcohol and Pork also strictly prohibited in the Islamic Faith are widely available throughout the entire country. Great timing though, elections are imminent. Smells like honest Democracy, don’t you think? Do we want to live in a world where art, forward thinking and our fragile environment is no longer of value?"
The Maldives are currently in preparation of elections. Is eco-art being used as political pawn before these elections? Throughout many official communications by both the resort Fairmont Maldives in Shaviyani Atoll, where the Coralarium is situated, as well as the artist himself it became easy to understand that the installation had a clear focus on highlighting the natural beauty of the Maldives and aimed to create an artificial reef with no intention of religious worship. Since the surfaces of each sculpture have already begun to overgrow beautifully with soft coral, sponges and algae, the scape and features of every art work were no longer recognizable. The following image was published on the resort's and museum's Facebook Page showing the growth process and now abstract features, merely human:
Through his groundbreaking work, the artist Jason deCaires Taylor has become a global ambassador for marine life protection and reef rejuvenation with shining examples at Museo Atlantico, Spain as well as Cancun, Mexico. Uncountable numbers of people visit his artificially created underwater realms every year and leave with a changed mind-set to contribute their little but significant part to help the Oceans.
The work aimed to create an artificial reef in an otherwise dead lagoon, a common problem in the Maldives. Sea Levels rise, water temperatures are increasing steadily, reefs are dying. The Maldivian environment is a fragile eco system with numerous small initiatives by local resorts, however apparently no funding by the government to help raise awareness against climate change, fight it and train the Maldivian population to help their reefs on the verge of permanent extinction. Instead, the delicate environment is being drained with over 20 new resorts opening on previously untouched islands only in 2018 / 2019! The artist Jason deCaires Taylor carefully designed the Coralarium over many months to bring together local influences and the indigenous culture of the Maldives with his renowned marine-grade concrete art with the hope to make a difference and raise awareness.
Maybe, this sad demolition of what could have become a shining beacon of hope for our Oceans will now open a few more minds and hopefully remind us that once something is gone, there is no bringing it back. #RIPMaldives
For more information on Jason deCaires Taylor's Art visit www.underwatersculpture.com
Here's a Gallery of images I took when I had the privilege of snorkeling through the forever lost underwater museum "Coralarium"