Snow-clad marble sculptures of cactuses, pencil sketches of corals and renderings of leaf shapes seemingly suspended in mid-air, interspersed with grids of neon-colored sculptures and alarming newspaper headlines warning of the “ghastly” climate apocalypse that lies in store for us: This artist's book explores the diverse reference system of forms and materials, plants, animals and other subjects out of which Claudia Comte develops her biomorphic sculptures. While cactuses are well adapted to arid conditions, coral reefs, which form bio-diverse ecosystems at the bottom of the marine food chain, are wasting away due to the warming and acidiﬁcation of the ocean. Leaves, on the other hand, represent photosynthesis, the energy-converting process that gives off oxygen. Comte’s supernatural fusion of cactus, coral and leaf draws connections between aspects of the desert, ocean, and forest through various processes of material metamorphosis.
The book begins with an index of Comte’s wooden sculptures, on which she confers ﬁrst-name monikers, as if they were her familiars. Based on sketches, they are carved in wood or executed in marble with the aid of digital media. So marble, a petriﬁed representation of the sea, meets wood, a place of storage for natural terrestrial processes and a constant source of oxygen.
The book’s focus is on our relationship to nature and the havoc we’ve wrought on our environment, which are the principal themes of the artist's practice. Prophecies of doom culled from newspaper articles sound the alarm about the looming climate emergency, for coral reefs aren’t the only critically endangered biomes.