SCULPTURES SLEEP WITH THE FISHES
An underwater art installation in the Maldives, said to have been the “world’s first semisubmerged art gallery”, has been destroyed after the government declared it antiIslamic. Earlier this year, Travel reported how the Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi resort had teamed up with British artist and environmentalist Jason deCaires Taylor for the creation of 30 sculptures, which were placed inside a steel cube in the sea, about 50m from the beach. Taylor described the installation, titled Coralarium, as both a sculpture park and a marine sanctuary, intended to raise awareness for the protection of coral reefs.
But religious leaders in the Maldives, where Islam is the official religion, objected to the depiction of human figures — which is discouraged under Islamic law. After a court ruled them to be a threat to Islamic unity, pickaxe-wielding police removed and smashed the statues this week.
The Accor hotel group, which owns the Fairmont, said in a statement that while it was “surprised” by the decision, “we respect the people, traditions and customs of the Maldives”. It said it was planning a new collaboration with the artist that would be “in harmony with the locals and environment”.