The world's corals are in trouble: threatened by ocean acidification, warming seas due to climate change and plastic pollution, it's estimated that over 50 percent of the world's coral reefs will die by 2050 if we don't act soon. On the one hand, scientists and other experts are doing a pretty good job of alerting us to the terrible consequences if the world's coral reefs go bye-bye, but artists are also stepping up to reinterpret these dire warnings in a way that will reach a wider audience.
French visual artist Aude Bourgine is one of these concerned creatives, creating a series of coral-related textile art pieces that she calls Poumons des océans (or "lungs of the oceans"). Translating these living organisms into fuzzy and relatable versions of themselves under glass domes, Bourgine explains the more serious side to her whimsical approach:
If we do not rapidly change our relationship with our environment, the oceans will be dead by 2050. Their disappearance will entail a disastrous imbalance on all ecological, climate and human levels. [..] We must take heed for this universal cause, which concerns each and every one of us.
Bourgine's soft, tactile works are done in vibrant colours, as if to remind us of what healthy corals look like, compared to the alarmingly depressing images we now often see of dead, bleached corals.
This contrast of life versus death is important in countering that sense of psychological despair that many of us might feel with the seemingly unrelenting damage that's being done to the environment (and our collective sanity), Bourgine explains:
Since childhood, a real feeling of helplessness and guilt has been eating away at me about the way the human species works, even without worrying about the environment. At the origin of my practice was to find how to live with, and to learn to listen to this pain, rather than bury it to finally appease it. This gave birth to a first series of works entitled "Lungs of the Oceans" intended to awaken the feeling of wonder for the nature that surrounds us and the desire to protect it.
As we've said time and time again, science is showing us the hard facts of our negative impact on the planet, which can be quite distressing to confront. But confront it we must, if we are to evolve collectively, and art is one of the tools that will help us re-imagine a better, brighter and more harmonious future with not only our planet, but with the rest of the living beings we share it with. To see more, visit Aude Bourgine and Instagram.