Environmental activist and artist Jason deCaires Taylor specializes in site-specific sculptural artwork that’s installed permanently underwater and reflects modern themes of conservation. The artist’s latest project brings him to Ayia Napa, a Mediterranean town on the southeast coast of Cyprus.
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Titled “Musan,” the art installation is an underwater forest located 8 to 10 meters below the Mediterranean Sea, just 200 meters off the coast of Ayia Napa. Completed in 2021, the underwater forest consists of 93 sculptural art pieces depicting nature and trees meant to be consumed and colonized by marine biomass.
Perhaps most importantly, the pieces are designed to attract marine life on a large scale; the sculptures themselves are meant to develop organically and interact with their surroundings indefinitely. As time goes on, the pieces will provide food and shelter for a variety of marine creatures, all while serving as a reminder of the connection between humans, the natural world and art. Additionally, the project references the depletion of marine life in the Mediterranean Sea, as the underwater forest area will replace a previously barren stretch of sand within a marine protected area. Eventually, the site will be accessible to divers and snorkelers.
To create variety among the sculptures, they are placed at different depths ranging from 8 to 10 meters below the water’s surface, laid out to resemble a path through a forest. Differing in height and shape, the “trees” will provide a complex environment for the marine life in the area, while the sculpture materials are pH neutral to attract a more diverse variety of marine flora and fauna. Images of children playing complement the trees, a reference to our need to be included in the wild places that once existed.
Images © MUSAN / @JasondeCairesTaylor / Costas Constantinou