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Monday, June 11, 2012

A Circle of Children, Not Slaves!



Vicissitudes depicts a circle of figures, all linked through holding hands. These are life-size casts taken from a group of children of diverse ethnic background. Circular in structure and located five meters below the surface, the work both withstands strong currents and replicates one of the primary geometric shapes, evoking ideas of unity and continuum.

The underwater environment is much like that of the outdoors. An object is subject to changes in light and prevailing weather conditions. The cement finish and chemical composition of Vicissitudes actively promotes the colonisation of coral and marine life. The figures are transformed over time by their environment, and conversely as this happens so they change the shape of their habitat. This natural process echoes the changes exacted through growing up. Social interchange shapes this process, while conversely as the product of a particular society we in turn invoke change on the workings and dynamics of that environment.

The sculpture proposes growth, chance, and natural transformation. It shows how time and environment impact on and shape the physical body. Children by nature are adaptive to their surroundings. Their use within the work highlights the importance of creating a sustainable and well-managed environment, a space for future generations. Taylor notes that close to forty percent of coral reefs worldwide has been destroyed and that this figure is set to increase. His work reminds us that the marine environment is in a constant state of flux, and that this in turn reflects poignantly the vicissitudes, changing landscapes, of our own lives.

NOTE: Unfortunately, there are photos of this sculpture circulating around the internet with the following caption under it: "Underwater sculpture, in Grenada, in honor of our African Ancestors who were thrown overboard the slave ships during the Middle Passage of the African Holocaust." If you see it, please do not repost it with that caption because the information is incorrect. The origin and originator of that information is unknown, but the sculpture is being misinterpreted. Further, none of the underwater sculptures by Jason deCaires Taylor are in any way related to slaves or slavery.


The Cancun Underwater Museum is a series of sculptures by Jason deCaires Taylor placed underwater off the coast of Isla de Mujeres and Cancún, Mexico. The project began in November 2009 with placement of a hundred statues in shallow waters of the Cancún National Marine Park, which had been previously damaged by storms. The sculptures are created with pH-neutral marine concrete and are based on members of the local community. The artist planned the sculptures as artificial reefs with fire coral planted in the initial sculptures. Snorkeleres, scuba divers, and tourists in glass-bottom boats all visit the underwater installation. If you would like to see some of the other underwater exhibits, use the link just above this paragraph to watch a brief YouTube video in vivid detail. It's really worth watching!

Check out Jason Decaires Taylor on Facebook!

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