The Sinking World of Andreas Franke

The Nuclear Fleet

Doomsday is a button away

A mere push of a nervous finger is all it takes to turn us into atomic ash. As trigger-happy dictators and unpredictable leaders with fragile egos push us to the brink of nuclear war,  it’s more important than ever to raise a voice against this nuclear madness. But before we attempt to save the future, allow me to say a few words about the past.

The Bikini Atoll

It’s this vision of wet beauty that contrasts so sharply with the insanity of nuclear armament that has set the stage and setting of my next ambition – The Bikini Atoll. This place is the core of my silent artistic protest against nuclear armament precisely because it was a terrible victim of nuclear irresponsibility itself. Between 1946 and 1958, 23 nuclear devices where detonated here, for the sake of a ‘better world’. The catastrophic and unnecessary tests rendered the reeds and islands unfit for human inhabitation, driving away an entire population which who could never be successfully rehabilitated, thanks to dangerous radiation levels. In addition, a fleet of 13 warships, destroyers and other naval vessels were deliberately sunk by the explosions to assess their nuclear resistance. These war vessels still sit on the ocean floor, as quiet reminders of the horror and folly of misplaced nuclear ambitions.

The Nuclear Fleet Underwater Exhibition

My ambition is to dive and document these shipwrecks, and then use them as backgrounds to stage an artistic protest against a political threat. Just like my previous project, the scenarios depicted in my images will combine facts and fiction to express my contempt and cynicism to those who are driving the human race towards extinction.

To increase the impact and spread my message to the furthest corners of the world, I plan to use A-listed celebrities as actors in my imagined mindscapes. My dream is to recruit globally known faces who can echo and amplify my own humble yet relevant voice in this global fight for nuclear disarmament.

Once the images are created, they will once again become part of an underwater installation off the Florida coast.

How you can help

Whether you are an organisation, celebrity, art patron, media outlet, or just someone concerned about preserving the future of humanity, there are many ways you can join and lend a helping hand to this project.


The Sinking World

With his underwater project “The Sinking World”, Andreas Franke brings strange, sunken, forgotten worlds back to life and presents them in an entirely new context. Shipwrecks are strange places. Their mysterious emptiness haunts the mind of passionate diver and renowned advertising photographer Andreas Franke. In the realm of the mute sleeping giants, places almost surrealistically alive, Franke saw the potential for an entirely unique stage. He took studio photos representing scenes from everyday life or the life style of an era and superimposed them on the absurd, peerless, submarine background formed by the ship and its ambiance.

Franke’s work forms strong dichotomies: the soft, mysterious underwater emptiness of resting shipwrecks matched with real scenes from above, full of vitality and exuberance. This creates an entirely new world, bizarre and disturbing, yet irresistible. But the resting giants do not only serve as fascinating and unique settings to Andreas Franke’s stagings. They also make for magnificent venues.

An underwater gallery does not only hold divers spellbound. The ocean leaves peculiar and impressive traces on the pictures. The weeks and months under water bequeath Andreas Franke’s works with a special, unique patina, which beautifies them and leaves a strange touch of impermanence. The sea has dressed the pictures in strange suits. Salt, algae and microorganisms from below have gathered to adorn the pictures from the world above:

the signature of the ocean. Finally the surfaced, mysterious and oddly ennobled beauties are to be seen on land.

Andreas Franke on his work:

With my photographs of submerged shipwrecks I try to create illusionary worlds far from the typical commercial photography and seduce the observer with new, unreal, foreign worlds. The mystified scenes from the past take place in a fictive space. These are dream worlds that one can get lost in but with which one can also identify. They breed a novel and unexpected atmosphere.

Since 2011 Andreas Franke carried out 3 sinking world projects which generated overwhelming press feedback throughout the world.

Each project was supported by several Exhibitions ind the US and Europe, both underwater and on the surface.

Read more about the press comments on the sinking world

Read more about the 3 sinking world projects on the wrecks of “The Vandenberg”, The Stavronikita” and The Mohawk.


The Artist Andreas Franke

Who I am

My name is Andreas Franke. I’m a photographer based in Vienna. About five years ago, I started my underwater journey to explore the poignant beauty of shipwrecks. I called it ‘Sinking World’. Capturing these artificial giants sleeping at the bottom of oceans, like the former USS General Hoyt S. Vandenberg off the coast of Florida, I then composited scenes shot in my studio to create alternative underwater realities that are as mythical and fascinating as mermaids.

Giant prints of these images were then put back where they were born – at the bottom of the ocean. Displayed on the wrecks themselves, an underwater gallery was available to those who would descend to depths of 40 to 50 metres, often visited by fish and other fauna. Over time, the artworks would gain a maritime patina that would seal my vision.

The event was a runaway success. Besides thousands of divers who visited the underwater exhibition, it was covered by major media outlets like CNN, ABC and Wall Street Journal. The Sinking World fascinated the public in ways beyond I could imagine.

© Robert Wilpernig