Exhibition Review: Our Time On Earth at Barbican, London

Exhibition Review: Our Time On Earth at Barbican, London

We were more than lucky here at MIMMO Studios to have been invited to the launch of a new exhibition at the Barbican in London this week.  

@mimmostudios #barbican #ourtimeonearth #climatecrisis #exhibition ♬ I'm a Rock - Jitwam

 Our Time on Earth’ is an exploration of creative solutions to the climate crisis. The exhibition takes you on a journey through all kinds of landscapes - indigenous lands, into the soil, through a banquet, into the future and back again, finally ending beneath a waterfall - all the while exploring practical and creative systems for coping with the environmental crisis we face. 

At the core of the exhibition is the notion of inclusivity - sharing knowledge which already exists alongside new ideas and ways of thinking. A key focus is the lessons we can learn as a modern society from indigenous cultures - those who are already so deeply in touch with nature, who can teach us lessons long forgotten.

“We, the native peoples, represent 5% of the world population. However, our way of life protects 82% of the world’s biodiversity.” 

Flags created by Indigenous led activist group Choose Earth
Flags created by Indigenous activist group Choose Earth

A fantastical dinner table is laid in one room of the exhibition (a piece by Superflux titled ‘Refuge for Resurgence’), imagined to cater to all species as equals. Each setting has its own chair appropriate to the guest - whether bird, insect or mammal. A nest hangs over one side of the table, and a squat log splattered with mud next to it. Each place setting is already set with a delectable side dish for every preference (acorn, anyone?). 

Refuge for Resurgence by Superflux
Refuge for Resurgence by Superflux

Creating interactive, immersive and truly creative scenarios makes the heavy and emotionally laden subject matter of the climate crisis feel accessible, even fun. Even if the solutions presented are theoretical, it inspires a sense of possibility and hopefulness. 

In our experience at MIMMO Studios, and something we want to continue fostering, is a feeling of positivity rather than fear when working towards solving the climate crisis, alongside the need for change within society and the way we exist to consume. 

This topic is woven throughout the exhibition; the incompatibility of survival with relentless growth. The capitalist society which does not value the natural environment is no longer viable. In a letter entitled ‘We are the Earth’, which is part of the exhibition, Indigenous activists Sônia Guajajara and Célia Xakriabá beautifully write about their love for the Earth and the dangers it faces. 

“We are the Earth. We arise from the Earth and we return to it. The Earth is within us. The Earth is our sister, our daughter, our aunt, our mother, our grandmother. The earth is our womb, our food, our cure. The power of our chants connects us to the charms of our ancestors. We are the ones who – through our hearts – hear the cry of the Earth.”

Covering such an expanse of nuanced topics under the umbrella of the climate crisis in such a thoughtful and succinct way is one of the most special things about this exhibition. Guest curators Caroline Till and Kate Franklin of trend forecasting agency Franklin Till are due so much credit for this. 

ENGAGE, ideas for the future of the climate crisis at Our Time on Earth

Speaking emotionally at the launch, Caroline insists “The conversation about the climate crisis until this point … often evokes a sense of shame, helplessness and even paralysis … we wanted Our Time on Earth to carve out space to imagine a constructive way forward.”

Imagination and community will solve the climate crisis, and this exhibition inspires both.

Thank you for having us, Caroline and Kate! 

Lil and Katie, founders of MIMMO Studios at the Barbican Our Time on Earth exhibition