Core - Coralations (Death Assemblages)
(Death assemblage’(thanatocoenosis): An assemblage of fossils of organisms that were not associated with one another during their lives. The remains were brought together after death, often by the action of currents.)
Core-Coralations (Death Assemblages) is an exhibition of new sculptures and photographs that are part of Mangan’s long-term Core-Coralations project. It considers The Great Barrier Reef’s recurring mass coral bleaching events as literal and metaphorical starting points for evidence of a warming world. Of the many entanglements that Mangan explores, key themes include coral death in and of itself; and as a precursor to climate-change-related human demise, fossil fuel and petrochemical extraction.
In their typical usage polystyrene ‘wet boxes’ are formed from small beads of petrochemical (derived from fossil fuels) that resemble coral polyps. They transit commodities, including fresh seafood for human consumption across international seas during the perpetual exchange of goods. In the Coral Ossuaries, Mangan uses a collection of found wet boxes as molds for casting coral bone fragments (sold for domestic aquarium tank filtration) into new hybrid forms made of coral, with a spectral trace of polystyrene: fossils of the Anthropocene that describe reef heating and coral death. (Ossuary: A container in which the bones of
dead people are placed. Latin etymology: ‘Os’ - ‘bone’.)
The first sign of coral heat stress is necrosis of the polyps when the tiny organisms that feed the coral fail to thrive and peel away from the coral’s limestone skeleton. In Sarcophagi, Mangan casts a barricade structure using coral. Coral becoming a barricade references a confrontation between the ‘barrier’ reef and Captain James Cook’s maiden voyage to Australia, which ran aground on the reef. It also acts as a memorial sarcophagus for lost corals of The Great Barrier Reef and calls to mind the inevitable heat stress that all living organisms will face under a warming climate. (Sarcophagi: A box-like funeral receptacle for a corpse. Greek etymology: flesh + eater.)