The Maldives government signed off all permits for a resort’s art installation featuring “human form” sculptures that were later removed for being un-Islamic, it has been claimed.
According to police, the Tourism Ministry said the Coralarium was built in contravention of the permission given to the resort and the Civil Court ruled it posed a threat to “Islamic unity and the peace and interests of the Maldivian state.” Its removal was necessary to “protect the five tenets of Islamic shariah,” local media were told.
The resort and the artist, Jason deCaires Taylor, have yet to comment on the clear-out or the controversy preceding it.
But photographer Cat Vinton, who has worked in the Maldives, appeared to shed light on events by saying the government knew about the Coralarium.
“Despite signing off every permit throughout the three-month long installation process – the Maldivian Government sent in police – with pick axes to destroy the sculptures,” she posted on Instagram.
“The election will take place in two days time and the sitting government wants to up their Islamic credentials. Depicting the human form is considered un-Islamic. They have no answer for why they signed off all plans for the installation…except to say they didn’t.
“The Coralarium explores our dependence on the natural environment and the threat of rising sea levels to the Maldives while at the same time providing a habitat for the regeneration of vulnerable coral species. And it is gaspingly beautiful.
“The installation includes a series of submerged children looking up towards to surface of the sea, posing questions about the threat of climate change and rising sea levels and how the effects will be felt in low level islands such as the Maldives.”
It was the world’s first inter-tidal art gallery and the resort had been planning to offer guided tours with resident marine biologists.
“The idea of this project is about combining art with conservation. So it’s building an art exhibit that will also turn and be changed by nature into this artificial reef,” Taylor had explained in a short film.
The sculptures were based on casts of real people, about half of whom were from the Maldives.