When the Vandenberg ship sunk, just south of Key West three years ago, it was actually a deliberate move to create an artificial reef. And when Andreas Franke visited the wreck in 2009, he was inspired.
Franke, a photographer, created an art exhibition that would become known as much for its unique beauty as is unique location.
The exhibit, titled: “The Vandenberg: Life Below The Surface,” consists of 12 prints—depictions of everyday life, such as a woman doing laundry, a girl chasing butterflies, and young boys stealing gum—all very “Modern Americana” style, in the vein of Norman Rockwell. But what makes Franke’s art unique is that the subjects are all underwater.
“Life Below The Surface” was originally housed inside the hull of the Vandenberg, where tourists could take chartered dives 100 feet down to the ship. An unlikely venue for a gallery exhibition, sure, but the peace and quiet found underwater sort of makes an ideal setting. The solitude is unavoidable. Each piece is housed in plexiglass, with a stainless steel backing. A layer of silicone keeps the art sealed airtight.
Franke has had a 20 year career in advertising photography, and has been listed several times in Luerzer’s Archive as one of the “200 Best Ad Photographers Worldwide.”
“In my photography I try to construct illusionistic worlds,” he says. “I like to see things from a different angle and I try to create new kind of views. Thereby taking images of a sunk ship and bringing life back to the ship by filling these images with stories was always very interesting for me. By diving the Vandenberg I finally found the perfect stage and the last obstacle to realise [SIC] my idea was removed.”
The ship, the General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, was first launched in 1943. It was originally names the USS General Harry Tayler, and was used by the U.S. Navy as a troop transport ship in World War 2. It was renamed in 1961, and transferred to the Air Force until it was retired in 1983.
Then in 2008, a group of investors acquired the ship and sunk it—intentionally—off of Key West in order to create the world’s biggest artificial reef for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. It was sunk on May 27, 2009.
Now, the popular exhibit will be available on dry land, housed inside the Ronald Regan building in Washington D.C. The exhibit is free and open to the public, and part of a conference hosted by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.
Source: Washington Post