Sunday Times

SCULP­TURES SLEEP WITH THE FISHES

- Arts · Accor · Maldives

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”.

 ?? Pic­ture: mal­divesin­de­pen­dent.com ?? AXED A po­lice­man breaks one of the works.
Pic­ture: mal­divesin­de­pen­dent.com AXED A po­lice­man breaks one of the works.

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