Cancún, Quintana Roo — A provocative New York City artist is in hot water for tampering with one of Cancún’s underwater sculptures.
Mexico’s National Commission on Natural Protected Areas (Conanp) will file a criminal complaint against Polish-born artist Ágata Oleksiak, known professionally as Olek, who covered at least one of their sculptures with her own art piece, which is perhaps best described as a crocheted cozy.
Olek, who lives in New York City, offered to donate more of her artwork to make amends, but the underwater museum decided to send a strong message against tampering with their pieces.
The molested sculpture is part of the series “The Bombs in Nizuc,” at the Underwater Art Museum (MUSA).
“From an artistic point of view it is attractive because it makes them more colorful, but from a conservation point of view we did not like her idea, because it damaged marine life,” said Roberto Díaz Abraham, speaking for MUSA. He said that repairs will cost between $5,000 and $6,000.
“Believe it or not, there is a lot of marine life growing, incrusted in the sculpture, and we gather that this [the crochet piece] has killed it,” museum director Jaime González Cano told The Associated Press.
Díaz said that since the opening of the museum in 2009, six sculptures out of a total of 521 permanent, life-size installations have been damaged. The project was founded by González Cano; Roberto Díaz Abraham, then President of the Cancun Nautical Association; and English sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor, who created the bombs series. MUSA is one of the largest underwater artificial art attractions in the world.
For Oleksiak, who calls herself Olek professionally, covering objects with crochet cozies is a running theme. In 2012, Olek was part of the 40 Under 40: Craft Futures exhibition at the Smithsonian, for which her entire crocheted studio apartment was exhibited.
Despite the lawsuit, Olek positions herself as a friend of the environment, working to raise awareness about endangered marine life in partnership with oceanic conservation organization PangeaSeed. More underwater crochet installations are seen on her Instagram feed.