Back in December, on the last day of my annual jaunt to Barbados, we heard acclaimed Austrian photographer-diver Andreas Franke was soon to unveil his new project plunging 130 feet under the sea — an underwater photography exhibition titled “The Sinking World.” Then, it took every ounce of discipline to board my flight back to New York and restrain from diving into the pristine waters for the sake of art. As the exhibit is currently running through April, however, you can bet I’ll be back.
On view onboard the SS Stavronikita, a sunken Greek freight ship that fell victim to a fire more than two decades ago, “The Sinking World” showcases Franke’s exquisitely installed photography exhibition, which takes a cue from Europe’s ornate 18th-century Rococo era. My art advisor houseguest and Travel Curator contributor, Kim Light, notes that the show is a “cinematic time capsule, a surreal reminder of times gone by.” Its stunning photographs depict graceful ornamentations of young women and men lounging among a bucolic setting of confectionaries, walking through eerily timeless gardens of shells, seaweed and barnacles.
Says Kim: “This seemingly disturbing and symbolic setting are a literal dive into the depths of the macabre, transposing our minds into lost civilizations and reminders of romanticism.” Each photograph is carefully mounted to the ship using magnets so as not to disturb the ecological balance of marine life thriving on and around the doomed ship, now fossilized into the most decadent artificial reef that ever was.
So why the decision to take an art exhibit under the sea? Franke’s artist statement remarks that the sunken Stavronikita is “a stunning symbol of life’s irrepressible avidity.” In other words, life happens no matter what, and we must live it to the fullest. That, and Franke certainly has a predilection for the adventurous and the bizarre!
Well, that makes two of us.