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Climate Gets Creative

10 June, 2022

How would you lay the table if you were expecting a fox, a wasp, or a pigeon for dinner?

This inter-species dinner party is one of the more radical installations at the Barbican’s exhibition Our Time on Earth. Eighteen different artists from twelve countries each offer a creative response to the climate crisis. Rather than a warning or depiction of the problem, what it presents is a mix of fantasy and hope through an interactive and immersive experience.

It takes insights from indigenous communities, such as the living root bridges used by the Khasi of North India, to explore the use of root canopies as an urban transport network in a rewilded world. There is the reinvention of fashion design via regenerative materials like mushroom leather, carbon emissions and the engineered spider silk from North Face. Then there are the farfetched experiments including a single enormous 165-storey city of 10 billion people, designed to allow humans to step back and let the rest of the planet heal.

Even if the pragmatist in us can’t help but scoff at the more extreme speculations, it shows how artists can offer visions of how we might rethink our place and interconnection to the natural world. It provokes a dialogue between alternative ideas for nature and capitalism to co-exist.

When we’re so often drowned in news about how bad things are, we should applaud this daring optimism to discover new potential ways of living, some of which are still within our reach. If you have a chance to visit the exhibition it runs in London until end of August and then tours internationally.

By Alice Railton

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