The idea is so strange that someone was bound to think of it. For his latest exhibition, the Austrian photographer Andreas Franke has chosen the bridge of a military vessel, the General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, which has spent the last two years underwater in the Florida Keys National Maritime Sanctuary. Entited Vandenberg: Life Below the Surface, the series features twelve digital images taken a year ago inside the wreckage, since retouched by Franke, a frequent diver.
They depict surrealist scenes of humans living on the various parts of the sunken ship—scuttled in 2009—as if they were on land. Franke, a commercial photographer, has imagined, among the schools of fish, a boxing match, a washerwoman hanging her laundry to dry, a ballet rehearsal, a child balancing on a railing, and a psychiatric patient being taken for a stroll in his wheelchair. The images are artificial but affecting nonetheless, and can only be viewed while wearing a scuba gear.
Covered by a layer of plexiglass and encased in a steel frame, the photographs are held to the ship’s surface with strong magnets, returned to their birthplace, the circle closed. “These are mystified scenes of the past that play in a fictional space,” explains Franke. “Dreamworlds, where you can get lost or you can identify with. This makes a new and unexpected atmosphere.”