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Value and Transformation of Corals

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By Margaret and Christine Wertheim

This lush full-color publication accompanied a museum-wide retrospective of the Crochet Coral Reef project at Museum Frieder Burda in Germany in 2022. The exhibition gathered together the Wertheims’ crochet reefs over the past 17 years, alongside the largest ever community-made reef, which comprises over 40,000 individual coral pieces. With commissioned essays about the scientific, social, environmental, mathematical, and communal dimensions of the project, the book provides a critical in-depth look at a stunning example of the power of art and community in the face of climate change.

Collaborative, figurative, material, conceptual, feminist, and playful, the Wertheims’ Crochet Coral Reef alerts us to the reality that life on Earth is nothing if not entangled.

With their unique fusion of mathematics, handicrafts, and collective art practice, sister artists Christine and Margaret Wertheim create large-scale coralline landscapes both beautiful and blighted. Responding to the anthropogenic crisis, their soft sculptures and wall-mounted reliefs simulate living reefs using algorithmic crochet techniques to mimic in yarn the curling, crenelated forms of actual marine organisms.

Since they started the project in 2005, their Crochet Coral Reef has been exhibited at the 58th Venice Biennale, Helsinki Biennial, Andy Warhol Museum, Hayward Gallery, The Smithsonian Institution, and many other international venues. In addition to their own reefs, the Wertheims collaborate with communities around the world – in 50 cities and countries so far – to create local Satellite Reefs, to which more than 20,000 people have contributed, constituting one of the largest and longest-running art happenings on the planet. This beautifully produced book frames the project’s many intellectual dimensions along with 190 pages of photos.

For more on this project, with a focus on the mathematics behind it, we also carry the IFF book, A Field Guide to Hyperbolic Space.

Wienand Verlag, 2022, hardcover, 8.25 x 10.75 in, 229 pages.