In 2021–2022, Margaret and Christine Wertheim collaborated with Museum Frieder Burda in Baden Baden, Germany, to create a Satellite Reef on an unprecedented scale as the community component of the museum-wide retrospective exhibition Value and Transformation of Corals.
The resulting Baden Baden Satellite Reef comprises over 40,000 coral pieces by 4,000+ contributors across the German speaking world and beyond. At once a monumental work of feminine fiber art and a mathematically generated synthetic ecology, this is by far the largest community reef to date.
For the exhibition Margaret and Christine worked with a dedicated team of local crafters to curate this massive wooly outpouring into a collection of three-dimensional, topographical coral islands, and a series of vast wall-mounted ‘coral paintings’ installed within the gallery and inside the museum’s elevators, turning the latter into an immersive moving aquarium.
Generated by thousands of hands and as many imaginations, these works challenge normative ideas about the artist as singular ‘genius’ and add a new dimension to the field of collaborative fiber-craft in the tradition of community-centered creations such as the Gees Bend’s quilts.
As with the entire Crochet Coral Reef project, these sculptures are works of embodied mathematics manifesting the hyperbolic geometry witnessed in living reef organisms. Taken as a whole, the Crochet Coral Reef is both a global experiment in algorithmic making and an open-ended exercise in applied evolutionary theory. The Baden Baden Satellite Reef constitutes a unique new ecological niche in the ever-evolving landscape of crochet coral ‘biology.’
The Baden-Baden Satellite Reef local curatorial team consists of Kathrin Dorfner, Martina Schulz, Christina Humpert, Charlotte Reiter, Susan Reiss and Silke Habich, with assistance from the entire team of Museum Frieder Burda’s art workshop and installation crew led by master carpenter Arnd Merkle, plus twenty local seamstresses. See PDF of all 4000 BBSR contributors.