Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Old art, new art

Reviewing Radical Nature, Hari Kunzru thinks many artists have lowered their sights over recent decades:
If one thing unifies the second generation of Radical Nature's artists, it's a certain pragmatism. This may seem an odd thing to say of people who put wolves on trailers and build rafts for plants, but in a show where it's often hard to tell whether a piece was made in 1973 or 2003 it's one of the few areas where they seem to separate themselves from their predecessors. If the 70s generation was about global ideas and blue-sky thinking, there's now a certain modesty in the air. No one believes we're about to enter a new age. It's more about making the best of the old one. Projects are conceived in local terms and (barring floating cities) are less about saving the world than recovering some flotsam and jetsam from the collapse. This is perhaps another source of the pervasive sense of sadness I felt going round the show - the feeling that, 40 years ago, there was a sense of possibility that has since vanished.
He also mentions Amy Balkin, whose ambitions are sky high:
[the] legal battles [of this radical Californian artist] to make a piece of desert land truly "public" (This Is the Public Domain) and to create a global "climate park" in the atmosphere (Public Smog) show that the field has moved further on than one might think from wandering round the Barbican gallery.

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