Claudia Comte
After Nature
May 11 – August 22, 2021
Museo Nacional Thyssen Bornemisza, Madrid

Installation view: After Nature, Claudia Comte, Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain, 2021. Photo: Stefan Altenburger| TBA21
MNTB Madrid


We think we know what the Ocean is, how it looks like, even how it feels. But, actually, we only know the surface or the images that were made for our eyes. How does a turtle perceive a coral? Or a whale? Or is a star fish really a fish? And the corals? Are they aware of their own colours? Claudia Comte has invested years in understanding forms, but also, the contexts that made these forms possible. Her interest in wood, or in marble, or in the digital, should be read as an interest in knowing more about the life of trees, the memory that a beautiful material keeps of the Ocean and the human obsession with replicating life and intelligence. Replicating life? Yes, we too often talk and praise the wonders of artificial intelligence while we destroy the living intelligence of the Ocean, while we allow the coral reefs to bleach and to dye. Falling in love with a form implies the study of how this form emerged. In her contact with TBA21 Academy and through their passion and research about the Oceans, Claudia understood corals are complex beings that play a key role in the production of Earth’s oxygen. Corals are communities of animals and plants living in a productive coexistence. But they are as intriguing and beautiful than vulnerable. And their extinction has a deep impact on life in our planet. And so, a question emerged: can we help to regenerate the corals? Do the trees on the coast know about the problem? Is the reconstruction of the coral forms enough to serve as a new starting ground of the coral reef’s regeneration? 

The exhibition revolves around this idea, the possibility of understanding and regenerating the corals. Divided into two spaces: the day and the night, each environment refers to a moment in this process of research and coming to terms with Ocean’s life. The day space shows corals made of woods. The woods of the trees of the Island of Jamaica where Claudia Comte spent time of residency and study of the reefs. The second space –the night—refers to the darkness of the Ocean depths. A mural painting guides us through this universe of forms that is, as well, a universe of a life we know too little. Graphics, forms, technology, materials…
The work composes an immersive installation in which we can reflect and meditate and come closer to the coral mind.
- Chus Martínez, Curator
Chus Martínez