"The Crochet Coral Reef risks making real and fabulated things together to open up still-possible times for flourishing.... Palpable, polymorphous, terrifying and inspiring stitchery." -Donna Haraway
Australian-born, California-based twin sisters and scientists-turned-artists Margaret and Christine Wertheim (both born 1958) draw on a unique fusion of mathematics, marine biology, traditional handicraft methods and collective art practice to create large-scale coralline landscapes inspired by the beauty--and destruction--of the Great Barrier Reef. Responding to the anthropogenic crisis, their soft sculptures and wall-mounted reliefs simulate living reefs using crochet techniques to mimic in yarn the curling, crenelated forms of reef organisms.
First initiated in 2005, the project--which was later exhibited at the 2019 Venice Biennale--has since ballooned into an international and collaborative initiative with woolen contributions from over 20,000 people across 50 cities and countries. It has also inspired the formation of over 50 independent spin-off projects, dubbed Satellite Reefs.
This publication accompanies a museum-wide retrospective at Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden, Germany, which gathers the Wertheims' work on their Crochet Coral Reef over the past 15 years alongside auxiliary projects including a new Baden-Baden Satellite Reef, which was conceived of specially for the exhibition and constitutes the largest Satellite Reef to date. With commissioned essays about the scientific, social, environmental, mathematical, feminist and communal dimensions of the project, the book provides a critical and in-depth look at a stunning example of the power of art and community in facing climate change. Collaborative, figurative, material, conceptual, artistic, scientific, feminist and playful, the Wertheims' Crochet Coral Reef alerts us to the reality that life on Earth is nothing if not entangled.