Vandenberg is the world’s second-largest vessel intentionally scuttled to become an artificial reef.
Titled “Plastic Ocean,” the 24-piece exhibit embodies a resonant message of a worldwide shift to remove and prevent further plastics and micro plastics from entering life-giving ocean waters.
According to Franke, taking photographs is his way of exploring an issue. He said his images represent everything beautiful about this world and its future generations — yet juxtaposed with those images are facts intended to create awareness about how humans can curb reliance on plastics, the amount of plastic garbage found in oceans worldwide and its harmful impact on sealife.
Individually encased in plexiglass, mounted in stainless steel frames and sealed with silicone, the images are to be placed along the port and starboard sides of the Vandenberg May 24 and remain on display through the Keys’ summer dive season.
Attached to the ship’s hull, the images soon begin to accrue the ocean’s salt, algae and microorganisms, transforming the art in peculiar ways.
“Plastic Ocean” is to remain underwater until Aug. 25. Once removed from the ocean and dried, the images are to be exhibited on land, in hopes that the unique patina developed during their months under the sea will offer a glimpse of the beauty of the ocean and its creatures that are worth protecting.
An above-water preview of the exhibit with an opportunity to meet Franke is set for 6-9 p.m. Thursday, May 23, aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham Maritime Museum at Key West’s Truman Waterfront. In lieu of an entry fee, a donation to the Ingham Maritime Museum is appreciated.
Friday, May 24, a special team of divers is to install the art pieces of “Plastic Ocean” along both sides of Vandenberg’s hull. Recreational wreck divers are encouraged to join a morning trip with a professional Key West dive operator to dive this unique shipwreck, get a peek at the installation and capture their own photo or video images.
Aficionados and collectors can find originals and re-creations of “The Sinking World” at 7 Artists Gallery at 213 Simonton St. in Key West.
“Art patrons are charmed and enamored by the genius of ‘The Sinking World’ and its timely and profound messaging,” said gallery owner Jennifer Badry. “The sinking of the Vandenberg … and the profound ecological benefits so exquisitely rendered by Mother Nature’s growth on Andreas’ breathtaking, visionary artworks is sublime.”
Franke first photographed the Vandenberg wreck in 2010 for his premier 2011 collection that earned worldwide accolades.
More information: plasticocean.gallery
Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY
Florida Keys diving information: fla-keys.com/diving
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