Les récifs coralliens du monde entier sont détruits par le réchauffement climatique. En réaction à cette tragédie environnementale, les sœurs artistes Margaret et Christine Wertheim ont créé une œuvre particulière : Leurs récifs coralliens crochetés représentent une simulation spatiale de couleurs et de formes inspirées de la Grande Barrière de Corail australienne.
The cnidarians are dying. Corals everywhere are being killed by
global warming. Refusing to capitulate in the face of loss,
Australian-born, California-based sister-artists Margaret and Christine
Wertheim have fabulated a response using traditional handicraft
techniques: their crochet reefs shimmer and swell in colors and shapes
inspired by the Great Barrier Reef.
Like the living reefs they emulate, the sisters have created a collaborative installation to which over 20,000 people in 50 cities and countries have contributed.
Art, science, mathematics and community practice are synthesized in
work that reflects the possibilities of stitchery and the hidden history
of using craft techniques for scientific representation.
Exhibited at the 2019 Venice Biennale, the sisters’ Crochet Coral Reef is now the subject of a museum-wide retrospective at Museum Frieder Burda.
On the ground floor are a series of works they began in 2005, into
which are incorporated crochet pieces from a group of skilled craft
collaborators. Here we encounter a grove of giant Coral Forests (made
from yarns, videotape, tinsel and other detritus), a Bleached Reef, an
all-plastic Toxic Reef, a collection of miniature coral Pod Worlds, and
new sculptures for this exhibition, including a large-scale embroidered
sampler paying homage to the projects’ contributors and domestic female
Alongside reefs made by the Wertheims, the project also includes
Satellite Reefs generated by citizens of many countries. For Museum
Frieder Burda, a new Baden-Baden Satellite Reef transforms the upper
floor into a kaleidoscopic underwater world. With more
than 40,000 coral pieces made by 4,000 participants from Germany and
beyond, this is by far the largest Satellite Reef. Throughout Germany,
people gathered to crochet and draw attention to the crisis unfolding in
the world’s oceans. At the Museum, with guidance from Margaret and
Christine, a dedicated team transformed this wooly outpouring into a
collection of three-dimensional coral islands and vast wall-mounted
Underlying the project is also a mathematical dimension, for many of
the ruffling shapes found in both marine organisms and their crocheted
siblings are based on hyperbolic geometry, an alternative to the
Euclidean variety we typically learn. The Crochet Coral Reef may thus be
seen as an exercise in applied mathematics melding handicraft with
At the same time, the project demonstrates parallels between
biological and social evolution. For in the process of crocheting
corals, each maker becomes part of a comprehensive whole, analogous to
the individual polyps of living reefs that together grow collective
forms blurring the boundaries between the ‘individual’ and the
‘communal.’ Collaborative, figurative, material, conceptual, artistic,
scientific, feminist and playful, the Crochet Coral Reef alerts us to
the reality that life on Earth is nothing if not entangled.