Mermaids Are Shooketh: The World’s First Semi-Submerged Art Gallery Is Here

Presenting a who’s-who of who’s wet at the new Maldives’ art hot spot.

by Emma Specter
Aug 27 2018, 8:09pm

The world’s first “semi-submerged” underwater art gallery has opened in the Maldives, and Ariel is shook. The gallery is an initiative of the Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi, part of a luxury hotel chain you might know from when your rich boyfriend’s parents were last in town (pro tip: Fairmont toiletries are all Le Labo and ripe for the plucking). But unless you’re dating the Loch Ness monster (no judgment!), it’s guaranteed you haven’t experienced a hotel or gallery like this before.

“Coralarium” is the brainchild of British artist Jason deCaires Taylor, who has previously created underwater works in Mexico, Grenada, and the Canary Islands, according to Smithsonian magazine. His latest endeavor takes visitors on a snorkeling excursion from a swimming pool to a semi-submerged tidal building, where a dry elevated viewing platform spotlights sculptures that are described as “hybrid forms, part-human, part-plant, part-coral.”

Everyone knows an art gallery is only as good as its opening party. But who will attend this one? Our guesses, below.

Poseidon + Amphitrite. God & goddess of the sea, rulers of all they survey, these guardians of the seafaring populace never miss a party. We all know about Poseidon, but his wife Amphitrite – eldest of the Nereids – has been described as “the female personification of the sea–the loud-moaning mother of fish, seals and dolphins.” Come through, mom!

Nemo’s dad. This anxious boi deserves a good time.

The Rodarte sisters. Remember their ocean-inspired Spring/Summer 2015 looks? Vogue’s Suzy Menkes called the collection “repetitive, but still mesmerising in their hand-spun details and colours, like that wet green film that clings to sea-swept rocks and crustacean.”

Ursula. Ariel and Prince Eric can have the dry-land art scene all to themselves; Ursula unquestionably owns the sea. As Carmen Maria Machado wrote in her 2017 Guernica essay “The Trash Heap Has Spoken”:

Ursula’s final act was to become even bigger. She took up even more of the ocean, swelling larger than a skyscraper. She made the ocean rise. She brought sunken ships up from the floor, careened their wrecks around a whirlpool. She spoke of the waves obeying her whim, while the film’s normies flopped around helplessly in the ocean.”

Now that’s a bitch I want to make small talk with at party!

The reincarnated spirit of “Granddad,” the oldest fish in captivity. Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium lost a real one in Granddad, a male Australia lungfish who dined on shrimp-and-seaweed layer cake and was seen by 104 million guests over eight decades of residency.

Michelle Rodriguez in Blue Crush. Michelle, board shorts-clad sea queen of my heart, the only one who took the surf competition seriously while Kate Bosworth was fucking around with Warner from Legally’ve more than earned your place on the guest list. Put some shrimp in your purse for later–you need fuel when you’re riding the waves.

The Damien Hirst shark. The shark may have been rotting as of 2006, but that doesn’t mean it can’t appreciate le nouvelle vague of underwater art. Damien is his plus-one. The Meg sends her regrets.