Elsa Salonen

For the Queen of the Southern Seas

coral skeletons, glass, sea water
2018, various dimensions

Most of the pieces of dead corals used for the installation were found drifted on the beaches of Yogyakarta, Indonesia, where Salonen was artist-in-residence in 2014. In turn, the symmetric pattern of the installation was created using powder ground from dead coral.

According to Javanese and Sundanese myths - originating from prehistoric animistic beliefs - the local sea is the kingdom of Nyai Roro Kidul, the Queen of the Southern Seas. Global warming and the rising sea water temperatures are killing the vital algae living inside coral tissues. This leads entire coral reefs to starvation, turning them deadly white in a process called coral bleaching. 

Thematic consultancy / coral bleaching: Helmut Schuhmacher, emeritus professor of aquatic ecology, Duisburg-Essen, Germany
Thematic consultancy / mythology: the artist's Javanese friends: e.g. Arif Abdurachman and Bawep Kapalatama, anthropologist Patrick Vanhoebrouck
Artist-in-residence: Sewon Art Space, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 2014 
Exhibition views: Fata Morgana, Berlin, 2018 / Photographers: Jere Salonen and Elena Panouli