The critics pass judgement on Radical Nature, at the Barbican and elsewhere:
PERCEPTIVELY Hari Kunzru The Guardian: Nature is in crisis… It’s not even really beautiful any more. It’s a problem, a remnant, something that needs to be conserved and argued for. The chances of being romantically overwhelmed are slim.
PROVOCATIVELY Regine Debatty We make money not art. As long as these artworks do not step out of museums and galleries most people hardly ever visit … , I fear that the impact of their work might be somewhat limited.
NEGATIVELY Edwin Heathcote, Financial Times: The show just doesn’t hang together. “Museums,” said Smithson, “are tombs, and it looks like everything is turning into a museum.” Forty years on, we’re still in the museum.
POSITIVELY Madeleine Bunting in The Guardian: On every side, artists are putting their shoulder to the wheel, trying to prompt the revolution in values and attitudes required to deal with environmental crisis.
ARTISTS SHOULD STICK TO ART-ISHLY Rachel Campell-Johnston, The Times. It’s all very worthy and often delightful… But do artists contribute anything practical?
THOUGHTFULLY Skye Sherwin in The Guardian: Francesco Manacorda, identifies… a dangerous dualism concerning how we think about nature and culture:.. but while many artists here lament the rift or attempt to close the gap, only a few explore its potential…
DEFEATEDLY Christopher Werth: Newsweek: That somewhat defeated tone pervades much of the newer work, which reveals little of the excitement[… ] found in the campaigns of Beuys and Ukeles. Perhaps that’s only natural after 40 years of environmental art, when for most of that time, so few have paid attention to the message.
ENTHUSIASTICALLY Throughstones blog: The Radical Nature project is an extremely important landmark exhibition, and groundbreaking in the degree to which it reaches out to the public and integrates with real life as it is lived. It will for sure have a far-reaching influence for many years to come.
OBTUSELY Rowan Moore The Evening Standard: Saving the planet is more to do with the Chinese changing the way they build power stations, or Americans changing the way they make cars, than anything an artist can do.
LOOK AT US, WE’RE CYNICAL AND ENVIRONMENTALISTS-ARE-ALL -FASCISTS ANYWAY-ISHLY Anorak.co.uk on the Tree Radical parade through central London: One man has painted his face and others are raising their arms in the air, in the manner of Moseley’s mob. The driver tells us that these are the Green Shirts not the fascist Black Shirts. Old Mr A says “same difference”.
Some are thoughtful, some are downright enthusiastic; some seem distinctly rattled, too.
Go to RSA Arts & Ecology