An example of The Coralarium’s artwork in the Maldives. It has now been removed.
An example of The Coralarium’s artwork in the Maldives. It has now been removed.

Underwater art destroyed for being 'offensive' to Islam

UNDERWATER art is springing up at popular tourist spots around the world. The eerie sight of sealife-clad human forms draws divers, snorklers to look at their world in a different light.

But a popular honeymoon resort in the Maldives won't have a bar of it.

Police wielding pickaxes have smashed the British-designed art installation at the Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi resort.

They say they took the drastic action after complains by religious leaders.

Islam is the official religion of the scattering of coral islands deep in the Indian Ocean.

Outgoing president Abdulla Yameen ordered the removal and destruction of the sculptures, declaring them to be "idols" which are banned by the religion. He insisted there was "significant public sentiment" against the artwork, making him decide to demolish the structure.

Hard-line Islam rejects any man-made depiction of the human form. But that's been increasingly hard to enforce in the modern world.

British artist Jason DeCaires Taylor insists his statues had no religious meaning whatsoever. Instead, they sought to capture the simplicity of the human form and behaviour.

 

A pickaxe is taken to one of Jason DeCaires Taylor’s artworks. Picture: Maldives police
A pickaxe is taken to one of Jason DeCaires Taylor’s artworks. Picture: Maldives police

 

"I was extremely shocked and heartbroken to learn that my sculptures have been destroyed by the Maldivian authorities at the Coralarium, despite continued consultations and dialogue," he told The Guardian. "The Coralarium was conceived to connect humans to the environment and a nurturing space for marine life to thrive.

Known as The Coralarium, the statues were fixed on a tidal reef within swimming distance of the hotel.

 

The Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi resort. Picture: Fairmont
The Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi resort. Picture: Fairmont

 

It was intended to serve the dual purpose of tourist attraction and refuge for sea life. An illumination system lit it up at night to create both an otherworldly experience, and highlight the thriving underwater environment.

Now local police have posted pictures to social media of themselves using pickaxes and power tools to remove the statues.

 

An example of Jason deCaires Taylor’s underwater art.
An example of Jason deCaires Taylor’s underwater art.


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