The Algarve is home to Portugal’s first unde...

The Algarve is home to Portugal’s first underwater exhibition

EDP Art Reef, Albufeira Algarve - Photo: Nuno Sá

Photo: Nuno Sá

The newly opened underwater exhibition features 13 artworks created by Portuguese artist Vhils

Portugal’s first underwater exhibition was unveiled this Tuesday in Albufeira, and is part of EDP’s project to create an artificial reef to not only become a new tourist attraction in the Algarve but also foster new marine life in the area.

©Rui Gregorio

EDP, Portugal’s national electricity company, challenged Vhils to create the artworks using old parts from deactivated EDP plants.

The ‘EDP Art Reef’ features 13 artworks created by Portuguese artist Alexandre Faro, better known as Vhils, which were sunken around one mile off Santa Eulália beach, in Albufeira.

“I tried to find various stories of our relationship as humans with the sea, a story made up of subsistence, confrontation, tensions, but also trying to look for various points where our history met the sea,” the artist said at the inauguration of the exhibition.

Portuguese artist Alexandre Faro, better known as Vhils

As he admitted, this project was his “most complex and challenging work” so far, not only because it involved a “team of many people” but also because “it took place at the bottom of the sea, a place in constant movement” and” where human presence is not natural”.

© Jose Pando Lucas

While Vhils says that almost all his work is ephemeral, he pointed out that in this case the actual goal is for the sea to “take over” the pieces.

“Here, in particular, the pieces are really designed for the sea to take over. This is already happening in some of them, and the pieces are also designed to evolve,” he explained, reiterating that some of them will only be unveiled as they transform later on.

© Jose Pando Lucas

Before being submerged at a depth of 12 metres, the works that Vhils created from parts of old coal and fuel-fired power stations, which have since been decommissioned, were exhibited at EDP’s headquarters in Lisbon.

EDP’s markets director, Catarina Barradas, guaranteed that the project always took care to ensure it was helping the local ecosystem.

“We worked with a series of scientific institutions to ensure that what we were doing was the best for that ecosystem,” she said, noting that the project will make a positive contribution to its development.

Due to legal and regulatory requirements, all visitors to the underwater exhibition “must be accompanied by a specialised company,” EDP says. “You will be guided on your visit by a technician and it is necessary to have insurance and to sign a liability waiver,” it adds.

The full list of operators includes:

The underwater exhibition site will be monitored over the next few years and will be available for scientific and environmental study, in addition to its cultural and awareness-raising aspects.

Article originally published by Michael Bruxo on Portugal Resident.


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