Over the last six months, the exhibit works have been submerged around two miles off the coast of Albufeira, in an area covering approximately 150 metres. Some of them will only be revealed in a few years, "after nature has had time to take its course", the artist told journalists.
First underwater exhibition opens off the coast at Albufeira
Around a dozen exhibit pieces make up the first ever underwater exhibition off the Portuguese coast, at Albufeira, as part of a project brought together by the artist Vhils and EDP.
"Pieces were submerged because some are part reef and entirely designed to add life, but which will later unfold into pieces as well”, said Vhils, at the inauguration of thi unusual project, next to Santa Eulália beach, in Albufeira.
According to Alexandre Farto, known as Vhils, the EDP Art Reef artistic intervention is a journey through the various pieces installed in that space, which tells a story that unfolds with various elements and depths, there are even pieces with which you can interact, he revealed.
“I tried to find several stories of our relationship as humans with the sea, a story made up of subsistence, confrontation, tensions, but also trying to look for various points in which our history met the sea”, he explained.
The artist has no doubts in assuming that this was his most complex and challenging work, not only because it involved a team of many people, but also because it was at the bottom of the sea, a place in constant movement and where human presence is not natural.
Asked by journalists about how quickly he expects natural action to modify the pieces that were submerged there, Vhils says that almost all of his work is ephemeral, but emphasizes that, in the case of this project, the intention is for the sea to “take over” the parts.
“Here in particular, the pieces are really designed for the sea to take care of them. This already happens in some and the pieces are also made to evolve”, he continued, reiterating that some of them will only be revealed later.
Before being submerged 12 metres deep, the works that Vhils created using parts from old coal and fuel thermoelectric plants, which have since been deactivated, were on display at the EDP headquarters in Lisbon.
The works were designed taking into account the promotion of an ecosystem favorable to the growth of coral reefs and the appearance of forms of marine fauna and flora, designed to generate a new artificial reef.
Present at the inauguration of the project, EDP's markets director, Catarina Barradas, said that the challenge was to take parts from deactivated power plants and give them a different look, a mission that was handed over to Vhils.
“We worked with a series of scientific institutions to ensure that what we were doing was the best for that ecosystem”, assured the person in charge, noting that the project will contribute positively to its development.
The pieces, which can only be visited through qualified diving, were designed to allow the passage of local fauna, with live corals rescued and preserved in captivity, being installed at their base.
The exhibition site will be monitored over the next few years, being available for scientific and environmental study, in addition to its cultural and awareness-raising aspects.
The EDP Art Reef was developed with the support of entities such as Albufeira City Council, Turismo de Portugal and the Marine Science Center of the University of Algarve, and validated by the Directorate-General for Natural Resources and the Portuguese Environment Agency, among others.
The submersion of the pieces was licensed by the Institute for Nature and Forest Conservation and the National Maritime Authority.