Where does one go to see an art exhibition in the Maldives? Under the sea, of course — the Indian Ocean, to be exact. Two of the island nation’s luxury resorts will be showcasing underwater works from photo artist Andreas Franke’s “Phantasy Fairytale” through May.
The sites, Huvafen Fushi and Niyama, are sister properties in the posh Per Aquum collection, where rooms start at about $600 a night. Rather than in some stuffy gallery, the “Phantasy Fairytale” showings are in Subsix, Niyama’s underwater music club, and Huvafen Fushi’s Lime spa, also below sea level.
Two photo shoots were necessary to create each fantasy-themed piece, one using an underwater backdrop and the other taken in a studio with real-life models. The superimposed images are encased in Plexiglas and stainless-steel frames, and divers put each piece — priced from $15,000 to $12,000 — in place per Franke’s specifications.
What will visitors see in the “Phantasy Fairytale” galleries? Some familiar faces are captured in a combination of photography, nautical exploration and digital mastery: fairytale characters such as Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Star Money, The Snow Queen and The Last Unicorn. The two spaces have four identical Franke images, with the exception of The Snow Queen, only at Niyama, and The Last Unicorn at Huvafen Fushi.
Franke, an award-winning Austria-based photo artist and avid scuba diver, has said of the series: “With my photographs, I want to pull the spectators into unreal and strange worlds. Mystified scenes of a fairytale play within a fictional space. Dream worlds you can get lost in, or that you can identify with. This creates a new and unexpected atmosphere. This work shows very much of myself, since I am always on the lookout for stunning themes to create new images that have never been seen before.”
Adding to the story each image tells: salt and algae that collect on the frames, along with the ever-changing world of marine life around them. “The underwater scenery is beautiful, coral reefs surround both Subsix and Lime Spa. You can see all sorts of coral from finger coral to brain coral, hard coral and soft coral,” Stacey Dean, Per Aquum’s director of marketing and communications, told Yahoo Travel in an email. “There are also many fish that live in the coral reef such as parrotfish and clown fish. We even have the odd turtle, stingray and reef shark that swim past.” . . . . . .