les presses du réel

After NatureCacti, Corals and Leaves

Claudia Comte - After Nature
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.
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.
Claudia Comte (born 1983 in Grancy, Switzerland) is an artist based in the countryside outside of Basel, Switzerland. She works between media, often combining sculptures or installation with wall paintings to create environments where works relate to each other with a visual rhythm that is both methodical and playful. Her work is defined by her interest in the memory of materials and by a careful observation of how the hand relates to different technologies. Claudia Comte has been invested in understanding the relationships between different forms of life. Materials do not only have a memory, but they also possess a knowledge about the environments they belong to. Marble entails the ocean, and life under water is crystallized and it would be inaccurate to see this material as hard, since it is liquid at its core. Wood "remembers" the climate conditions of the planet and the forest that embodies the thousands of symbiotic processes that allow air, energy, breathing, growing, food, shelter. Claudia Comte's work opens our view to environment, oxygen, the way the conditions of our planet modify the materials—in every pattern and object.
Comte was awarded the Swiss Art Award in 2014 and with the Kiefer Hablitzel Award in 2012. She got supported by the UBS Foundation for Contemporary Art (Switzerland) in 2012 and won the Kulturförderpreis by Alexander Clavel Stiftung (Riehen, Switzerland) in 2018. 
Texts by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Yann Chateigné Tytelman, Chus Martínez.

Graphic design: Adeline Mollard, Elektrosmog.
published in July 2023
English edition
19,5 x 27 cm (softcover)
420 pages (1800 color ill.)
ISBN : 978-3-907236-53-6
EAN : 9783907236536
in stock

 top of page