Art in the deep

Six monumental three-dimensional sculptures of faces, each over two metres high and weighing ten tonnes, placed in the sea at a depth of between two and three metres, are on display at the underwater museum off the coast of Cannes, France.

The six works of art rest on areas of white sandy seabed in the sheltered southern part of the island of Sainte-Marguerite. The location of the sculptures was previously an area of abandoned decommissioned ship infrastructure and part of the project involved substantial cleaning of the seabed. The Cannes Underwater Museum, built by Jason Decaires Taylor, was funded by the city’s municipality and took over four years to develop. It is surrounded by crystal clear waters and is located within walking distance of the coast. The site is blocked off by boats, making it safe for divers and preventing anchor damage on the seabed covered by seagrass beds. The six faces of the sculptures are divided into two parts, with the exterior resembling a mask. The theme of the mask is linked to the history of the island of Sainte-Marguerite, known as the site where “the man in the iron mask” was imprisoned. It is also a metaphor for the ocean. One side depicts its strength and resilience, the other the fragility and decay of the ecosystem.


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