Press Release of Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden

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.



International exhibitions

International Archives 1st half of 2022

Margaret and Christine Wertheim, Value and transformation of corals

Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden (Germany)

29.01 - 26.06.2022




Exhibition 29 January - 26 June 2022. Museum Frieder Burda, Lichtentaler Allee 8b, 76530 Baden-Baden (Germany). Opening hours: Tue-Sun, 10am-6pm.







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 sculptures.

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 geometrical exploration.

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.

Margaret and Christine Wertheim, Value and transformation of corals

© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2022. All Rights Reserved

Margaret and Christine Wertheim, Value and transformation of corals