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This year, for its summer exhibition Radical Nature: Art and Architecture for a Changing Planet 1969 – 2009, the Barbican has cast its net wide in every sense of the word. The main action takes place in the Barbican Gallery with offsite installations on the Barbican’s Lakeside Terrace and in Dalston.
We liked Radical Nature, not just for its exhibits but for its earthy smells, surprises, apocalyptic sense of humour and space.
It’s all about the way, in recent years, nature and the environment has inspired artists and architects. The exhibition looks at the way these modern artists engage with the environment as they attempt to create some kind of harmony between man and planet.
Using both levels of the Barbican’s gallery space, the exhibition features 25 artists and architects. Described by the curator as “Frankenstein’s garden”, Radical Nature kicks off with a sad and eerie looking lone pine wolf on a trailer. One of Mark Dion’s Mobile Wilderness Units – the wolf demonstrates how man continually tries to turn nature into a palatable commodity.
Particular highlights for me included Anya Gallaccio’s Birch Tree. To create the installation the artist worked with a tree surgeon to source a tree which was destined to be felled. Once cut down, the tree was reassembled in the gallery space using metal bolts and wires. It’s very gentle and yet it screams â€œI shouldn’t be in here!â€
Great stuff for children includes Henrick Hakansson’s Fallen Forest. It’s a tropical jungle flipped on its side and you can explore behind, around and above it. Green Room, 2009 is a simple wooden structure that you walk into. Once inside, a beautiful miniature garden is revealed and the mirrored interior walls create an illusion of infinite space, when in fact only once person can comfortably fit inside the structure.
Radical Nature is good stuff – serious, surprising and fun. The exhibition is on until 18 October. If you see it, let us know what you think.
Photograph by Lyndon Douglas, courtesy of the Barbican.