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Saturday, July 2, 2022

West Africa’s first underwater museum highlights environmental issues

Waves crash on a beach near the Oceanium, a diving and environmental organization center in the southern region of the Dakar Plateau. About 100 meters from the shore and at a depth of 5 meters from the bottom of the ocean rise eight sculptures.

Dutch and Italian artists Mischa Sanders and Philipp Putzer created sculptures during their art residency in Dakar.

VOA and other media outlets were unable to visit the sculptures during their scheduled visit on Monday due to poor visibility and rough seas.

A sculpture by artist Fabrice Monteiro at the Oceanium in Dakar, Senegal, aims to draw attention to the importance of protecting the marine environment. (Annika Hammerschlag/VOA)

The works debuted at the Dakar Art Biennale, which runs until Tuesday. The goal is to draw more attention to the pollution surrounding the sculptures and thereby encourage conversation about the environment.

Charlotte Thomas is the Head of Communications at Oceanium.

“You see, here in Senegal, pollution is everywhere,” Thomas said. “You go to Dakar and you see waste all around you. And with the approach of the rainy season, they will go to sea. So if we don’t protect our land, we can’t protect our sea.”

Beyond Senegal’s rampant plastic pollution, a surge in development projects over the past decade has reshaped coastlines and destroyed fragile ecosystems. Fish stocks have declined sharply as commercial and artisanal fishing vessels continue to use unsustainable fishing practices.

In 2015, the government passed a law to ban single-use plastics, but it never went into effect. Versions of the law have since been passed, including in 2020 when the law specifically addressed plastic cups, straws, plates, bags and bottles, but they never went into effect.

Rodwan El Ali, Director Of Oceanium And The Underwater Exhibition In Dakar, Senegal, Poses For A Portrait On June 20, 2022.  (Annika Hammerschlag/Voa))

Rodwan El Ali, director of Oceanium and the underwater exhibition in Dakar, Senegal, poses for a portrait on June 20, 2022. (Annika Hammerschlag/VOA))

Senegalese native Rodwan El Ali is Director of Oceanium Diving and Underwater Show. He has spent most of his life diving in Dakar.

El Ali said in French: “I live underwater, and I see that in places that were so beautiful when I was young, not only are there no fish left today, but they have been replaced by plastic bottles, cans and all sorts of things. of things. It hurts me.”

A Diving Flag On The Left, About 100 Meters From The Shore, Marks The Location Of The Underwater Museum In Dakar, Senegal, On June 20, 2022.  (Annika Hammerschlag/Voa)

A diving flag on the left, about 100 meters from the shore, marks the location of the underwater museum in Dakar, Senegal, on June 20, 2022. (Annika Hammerschlag/VOA)

El Ali said he saw many dolphins, whales and sharks and caught fish of his own size. Now, he said, there was almost nothing left.

“We live in a country where the environment is not a priority,” he said. “May be [politicians] mention it in speeches, but do nothing in practice. Nobody watches, nobody does anything. You can go out to sea and do whatever you want and no one will stop you.”

Since the sculptures were placed underwater in December, they have spawned their own ecosystem. The clay structures are covered with shells, clams and sea urchins. Fish often visit to find shelter and feed on algae.

Umi Diau is a contemporary art specialist. The most interesting thing about this installation, she says, is that the statues look like coral, a unique sight in the barren waters of Dakar.

“The bay is just full of sand, there are absolutely no corals,” Diaw said. “So it’s interesting to see how contemporary art tries to mimic what nature has to offer by exploring natural ingredients that can coexist with the environment.”

According to her, Dakar is the capital of contemporary art of the continent, which gives the work a particularly large platform.

Organizers say they plan to commission local artists to create new sculptures that will eventually be added to the exhibition.

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

World Nation News Desk
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