They were submerged in the sea on January 28 morning, in front of Sainte-Marguerite Island, off the coast of Cannes, at a depth of five metres.
We are talking about the six sculptures by British artist Jason deCaires Taylor, famous for his underwater installations and for having created the world’s largest underwater sculpture Ecomuseums, first and foremost the Underwater Museum Cancún, built in 2015 in the Gulf of Mexico.
The works submerged along the French coast are inspired by the legend of the prisoner with the Iron Mask, who spent the years between 1687 and 1698 in the Sainte-Marguerite Island’s prison. But beyond the pop reference, it is the impact of the statues on the biological balance that represents the focus of the operation.
With this underwater Ecomuseum, the first in France and the largest in the Mediterranean, Jason deCaires Taylor has laid the foundations for a refuge for the flora and the fauna that occupy this extremely complicated part of the Mediterranean due to the high urban density on the coast and the large number of boats.
“A meeting between the nature, culture, art element and the educational aspect has been achieved”, Cannes’ mayor said, David Lisnard, who led the initiative.
Nature will modify and animate the installation. The aim is to transform the six statues into artificial reefs which, over time, will be covered by algae and coral, becoming a natural refuge for underwater life.
It will take a long time to achieve this result, as it did to design and realise the six statues. Two metres high and about ten tonnes each, they are made of an environmentally friendly material to the marine environment, the neutral pH favours the settlement of different forms of flora and fauna.
The shallow depth at which the statues have been positioned and the distance from the coast, less than one hundred metres, allow minimal-equipment visits. In addition, anchoring of boats has been prohibited in this area, in order to be enjoyed by swimming only.
With Jason deCaires Taylor’s installation, Cannes has its own Ecomuseum, but above all a stretch of “highly man-made and degraded” Mediterranean coastline has been placed under protection.