Hackney’s super arts venue (the Barbican, ennit?) tells us how to save the world

Barbi©DA22Will: © david.altheer@gmail.com interactive nature game Barbi chief Will Gompertz launches Our Time on Earth show at Barbican launch 040522

Launching the eco-exhibition: above, Barbican arts boss Will Gompertz and, below, curator Luke Kemp 

Barbi©DA0422Kemp: © david.altheer@gmail.com Barbican boss Will Gompertz curator Luke Kemp intros Our Time on Earth show at Barbican 040522

IT IS a pleasant paradox that a world-famous arts centre funded by the planet-depredating City of London should host an exhibition on climate change. And no matter how handsome the brutalist-styled, 40-year-old Barbican may be, the building is defiantly made of concrete, a material now disdained by ecologists, including some who are allowed to offer replacement suggestions in Our Time on Earth, which opens today Thursday 5 May 2022.

New Barbi boss Will Gompertz did not avoid the paradox when he spoke — lucidly and without notes — to introduce the exhibition. Text on a large screen behind him told assembled hacks and influencers bemoaned the corporates’ riding roughshod over nature. Presumably the ex-BBC TV arts editor thinks it sensible to flash up that view, before accusations of greenwashing are aired.

The show at the EC2Y 8DS venue, a super arts resource easily accessible by Hackneyites, is expected to be a blockbuster. It runs for almost four months and an international tour is scheduled, although some viewers may find the approach, described by the Barbi as  “celebrating the power of global creativity to transform the conversation… looking at the role technology has to play…”, controversial.

That humanity’s ingenuity will defeat global heating is usually a claim of the Right, not a perspective common to arts venues.

Yes, yes, but what do you actually get for your just-short-of 20 quid? Well, 18 “works”, displays from 12 countries, create a series of “innovative new” (sic) collaborations that the organisers hope will be utilised up around the world “to tackle climate change”.

One cluster of short films is close to advertorial, but mostly the works are simply  informative, touching even, especially a huge depiction of a cityscape that quietly comes to life as dragonflies, foxes and hens emerge from the scrub. It is not only children who will love the feature.

Barbi©DA0422newage: © david.altheer@gmail.com Our Time on Earth show at Barbican launch 040522
New Age nonsense? Some might say so

The immersive ocean experience is also enjoyable for young and old: worth the search for the lift to floor -2.

David Altheer 050522

* Our Time on Earth, The Curve and The Pit areas, Barbican, Silk Sreet, London EC2Y 8DS, Thurs 5 May-Mon 29 Aug 2022; opening times and tickets £19.50 


Barbi©DA0422game: © david.altheer@gmail.com interactive nature game Our Time on Earth show at Barbican launch 040522
Interactive: players adopt a different role in on-screen nature for a game in Our Time on Earth

* Backstory: Barbican takes Hackney Wick

* All pictures © DavidAltheer@gmail.com and all for sale for reproduction. Bigger format versions usually available. Shamefully, this guide is not available as an app

* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained. Links to articles in The Guardian do not imply any approval of that newspaper’s historic involvement with slavery

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