All Things Must Pass — Want to Help Break Down This Exhibit?
BREAKING NEWS: Andreas Franke's Stavronikita exhibit is coming down — want to be part of the crew that will disassemble it before the work heads out on a European tour? Joe Weatherby of Reefmakers is leading a group of 20-25 divers who will depart Miami for Barbados on May 10, 2013, returning May 13, 2013; participants will help with the takedown as well as enjoy parties and other activities surrounding the exhibit. Cost is under $1,000 per person including air fare, accommodations, etc. Contact Weatherby at (305)797-7077 or firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP if you want to join the party!
Austrian photographer and scuba diver Andreas Franke has struck again, beckoning divers from across the globe to his newest undersea photo gallery — 24 meters beneath the ocean waves.
Franke’s artwork, which combines underwater photography and Photoshop wizardry to superimpose whimsical characters onto shipwrecks, can now be found on the decks of the SS Stavronikita, a freighter that was purposely sunk in 1978 off the cost of the Caribbean island of Barbados.
A new location also brings a new theme, with a gallery depicting a collection of Rococo-inspired characters that embody decadence and extravagance. On-board the SS Stavronikita until April of 2013, the 12-piece display includes photos of gossiping women in elaborate gowns and a posh falconer awaiting his winged companion.
Franke first created this type of project in 2011 with his gallery entitled “The Sinking World,” which took place on the USS Vandenberg, a U.S. Navy transport ship purposely sunk in 2009 off the cost of Key West, Fla. After two, five-month-long exhibitions on the decks of the USS Vandenberg, the ocean-worn images are currently on display topside at The Studios in Key West in Key West, Fla. until Feb. 15.
How was your approach different with this project from the Vandenberg project?
The main difference between the two projects is that the Stavronikita sank 45 years ago, so there is a lot more growth on it. This made the mounting of the artwork more challenging. The growth was almost 1 inch thick and the magnets wouldn't hold, but ﬁnally we found the only place in the bow section where everything worked out perfectly.
Having done a project already, did your methods change with this project?
The engineering was exactly the same; we have photo prints sealed in Plexiglas and framed with stainless steel frames with magnets in the back. But besides that, the size of the pictures has changed (they are a bit smaller) due to the local circumstances and special features of the wreck, so the big advantage for the installation was that each diver could take a single piece of artwork; we didn't have to bring them down on a rope. That made the whole procedure a lot easier. Also, the depth was not as deep as the Vandenberg and we had no current at all. And how cool was that; during the installation, a submarine appeared and the passengers could watch the divers while they hung the art.
What type of message do you want this exhibit to present?
To be honest, there is no real message hidden, I wanted to share this fascinating, incredible underwater scenery full of lavish life.
At the very beginning of the project “The Sinking World,” I just wanted to try out something new as a diver. I wanted a new diving challenge, so I went wreck diving and as photography is my other passion, I took my underwater camera with me. At that point, I did not have the slightest idea that I would one day be making elaborate retouched photo montages to be exhibited. The plan was to dive to a wreck, photograph it, explore and try something new and have a good time, but ﬁnally something about the photos of the wreck captivated me so much that I could not stop thinking about them. I was completely fascinated by that mystical underwater world, this peculiar emptiness and somehow tragic stillness.
This project seems to follow a similar theme with each of the photos, unlike the last project, which depicted a variety of different characters. Why this change in approach?
That's true; that is because of a very simple reason: With the Vandenberg Project, it was a process of development. Already as I dove the Vandenberg, different scenes just appeared in my mind’s eye: the little girl with her butterﬂy net, the ballerinas, the doctor and his patient in a wheelchair. While working on the whole production, we got so excited and came up with more and more ideas. Finally, I had a series of 12 images, and this was the concept for the next project: following with a series of another 12 images. So while discovering the wreck of the Stavronikita, I already was looking to get photo material to stage 12 different images and what I found was rich enough to create a whole theme. The theme was so obvious to me by looking at the Stavronikita and thinking about the history of Barbados: This must stage a game full of overﬂowing decadence and exuberance. I thought it was a stunning symbol of life’s irrepressible avidity, and this swarming, decadent parade of life was my inspiration for this artwork. The theme was easily found: Rococo. For me the wreck full of lavish life simply demanded a match as overﬂowing and abundant as Rococo, its ideal equivalent.
Will there be another project in the future? If so, when can we expect to see it?
Sure, with me around, no wreck is safe anymore, so stay tuned!
But seriously, there are some other projects planned. With this project we not only gained a lot of attention and press, but also raised the interest of some tourism regions and the dive industry. I am happy to say that I've been already contacted to think about speciﬁc projects.