Marine

Massive sunken heads take up residence on the seabed

Massive sunken heads take up r...
The Underwater Museum of Cannes consists of six head-like sculptures, each of which weighs 10 tons
The Underwater Museum of Cannes consists of six head-like sculptures, each of which weighs 10 tons
View 10 Images
The Underwater Museum of Cannes consists of six head-like sculptures, each of which weighs 10 tons
1/10
The Underwater Museum of Cannes consists of six head-like sculptures, each of which weighs 10 tons
"The six works are based on portraits of local members of the community, covering a range of ages and professions, for example, Maurice - an 80-year-old local fisherman, and Anouk - a 9-year-old primary school pupil," explains Taylor
2/10
"The six works are based on portraits of local members of the community, covering a range of ages and professions, for example, Maurice - an 80-year-old local fisherman, and Anouk - a 9-year-old primary school pupil," explains Taylor
The sculptures in the Cannes Underwater Museum are situated on the sea bed and surrounded by seagrass
3/10
The sculptures in the Cannes Underwater Museum are situated on the sea bed and surrounded by seagrass
The Cannes Underwater Museum's sculptures measure over 2 m (6.5 ft) in height
4/10
The Cannes Underwater Museum's sculptures measure over 2 m (6.5 ft) in height
The Underwater Museum of Cannes' sculptures are modeled on local people
5/10
The Underwater Museum of Cannes' sculptures are modeled on local people
The Underwater Museum of Cannes' sculptures' mask-like design references the Man with the Iron Mask, says the artist
6/10
The Underwater Museum of Cannes' sculptures' mask-like design references the Man with the Iron Mask, says the artist
The Underwater Museum of Cannes sculptures are installed at a depth of up to 3 m (9.8 ft)
7/10
The Underwater Museum of Cannes sculptures are installed at a depth of up to 3 m (9.8 ft)
The Underwater Museum of Cannes' sculptures were floated out to the site using boats
8/10
The Underwater Museum of Cannes' sculptures were floated out to the site using boats
The Underwater Museum of Cannes were sunk into place by divers, with the help of cranes
9/10
The Underwater Museum of Cannes were sunk into place by divers, with the help of cranes
The Underwater Museum of Cannes' installation involved the removal of disused marine infrastructure
10/10
The Underwater Museum of Cannes' installation involved the removal of disused marine infrastructure
View gallery - 10 images

Any unsuspecting swimmers diving off the coast of Cannes, France, may think they've stumbled onto some kind of ancient Easter Island-type civilization swept into the sea long ago, but they'd actually be seeing the work of underwater artist Jason deCaires Taylor, who has completed his first installation in the Mediterranean. The project consists of six large head-like sculptures and is now open to those able to swim down to take a look.

The project is located off the shore of Île Sainte-Marguerite Island, which is part of Cannes. Notwithstanding its name of The Underwater Museum of Cannes, it's more accurate to describe the work as a small sunken sculpture park than a museum, as, unlike the British artist's Sculpture Coralarium for example, there are no walls or ceilings.

The six large heads weigh at least 10 tons each and measure over 2 m (6.5 ft) in height, and are situated at a depth of up to 3 m (9.8 ft). The material used for the sculptures is not specified. According to the artist, the sculptures look like they're wearing masks.

This isn't meant as a reference to COVID-19 as you might assume given the current pandemic, but rather the Man with the Iron Mask, who is supposed to have been imprisoned nearby. Additionally, the sculptures were carefully modeled on the faces of locals before being massively upscaled.

The Underwater Museum of Cannes sculptures are installed at a depth of up to 3 m (9.8 ft)
The Underwater Museum of Cannes sculptures are installed at a depth of up to 3 m (9.8 ft)

"The six works are based on portraits of local members of the community, covering a range of ages and professions, for example, Maurice - an 80-year-old local fisherman - and Anouk - a nine-year-old primary school pupil," explains Taylor. "Each face is significantly upscaled and sectioned into two parts, the outer part resembling a mask. The theme of masks connects to the history of Île Sainte Marguerite, well known as the location where the Man with the Iron Mask was imprisoned. Cannes, through its famous annual film festival, is well known for its relationship with the performing arts."

The project was commissioned by Cannes' mayor and took four years to realize. The area chosen for the Underwater Museum of Cannes was previously blighted with old marine infrastructure, which first had to be painstakingly removed. The completed sculptures were then floated out to the site using boats before divers placed them into position with the help of cranes.

The site is now cordoned off from boats so snorkelers and divers can swim among the sculptures in complete safety, and the hope is that marine fauna and flora will eventually make it their home.

Source: Jason deCaires Taylor

View gallery - 10 images
5 comments
David V
Love it. Of course they will look so much better in a few years.
buzzclick
This is a great initiative. Looks like the 10 ton weight figure includes the bases. It may have been more interesting if a couple of the heads were tilted in positions that weren't just upright.
Dziks
Fantastic idea. Please make more of these and on a bit bigger depths - up to 10 m perhaps.
AngryPenguin
Future archaeology is going to be so confusing...
Kevin Ritchey
Better tag them permanently so future archaeologists don’t confuse them with “real” artifacts. Cool idea but has future implications.