The Art: The Silent Evolution
The Artist: Jason de Caires Taylor
About the Work:
With over 750,000 visitors every year, the Cancun-Isla Mujeres Marine Park is one of the most frequented stretches of water in the world thanks to its serene waters, ease of access, and diverse marine life.
With so many tourists coming through, the locals have benefited greatly. The land-based ones, at least.
Below the surface, the park has been under severe stress. Human impact, in all its forms, has put the inhabitants at risk of extermination, but in the eye of Mexican authorities, the financial impact has proven more important than the environmental one.
Ultimately, it was no the government or any other agency, but two men who decided to do something about this issue. In 2009, Roberto Díaz Abraham and Jaime González Cano founded the non-profit organisation MUSA – the Museo Subacuático de Arte, or Underwater Museum of Art. It was the first of its kind.
The pair determined that a submerged art museum would not only divert traffic from the more volatile areas of the park, but serve as a habitat for life, particularly coral life, to grow anew.
Eight years later, MUSA is home to around 500 life-sized sculptures, 400 of which belong to a single piece by British artist Jason deCaires Taylor: The Silent Evolution.
Each sculpture is modelled off a Mexican citizen that Taylor met during the design process. Intricately detailed, with closed eyes and sullen features, the figures seem to be mourning the death of the environment. Ironic, considering that they are built out of super-resistant, neutral pH concrete intended to serve as the foundation for an artificial reef 420 square metres long.
And serve it has.
Taylor’s environmental art includes other sensational pieces like The Rising Tide and The Gardener of Hope, but none have an impact like The Silent Evolution. Once the titular evolution is complete, the piece will look nothing like what Taylor first installed.
And that’s entirely the point.