Are ecology and urbanism mutually exclusive? Is there such a thing as sustainable sculpture? Where does guerrilla gardening meet romantic conceptualism? Provisional answers can be found in Roots Radical.
Following his successful exhibition at Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange Gallery – and public sculpture in Gayfield Square, commissioned for the Edinburgh Art Festival – the American artist Andrew Ranville receives his first London solo show.
Ranville’s art solicits imaginary leaps, fantastic thoughts of physical agility, daring-do and suspended physics. Often it invites the viewer to move beyond mental gymnastics into ‘real’ activity.
The sculptures in Roots Radical are built to specification – components include climbing carabiners and nautical-grade rigging. Amongst other things, they resemble subverted skateboard ramps. Elsewhere, they are inaccessible viewing platforms nestled in tree-branches. The artist also creates prototypes for illegal architectural interventions. For example, Future Island is a fast-growing water-loving sapling that – with the aid of a floatation device and an anchor – can be pitched into the nearest canal. Ranville would have us climbing trees like children and scaling roofs like cat-burglars; exploring new vantage points and reclaiming inaccessible space.
Not all the works require such instantaneous action. Future Installation (Grand Fir) brings ecological and aesthetic values together. Collectors each receive a sapling from the artist, which they plant in a location of their own choosing. In due course it grows into a tree. At the time of its maturity, some fifteen years later, the artist will produce a sculpture in it made out of reclaimed timber.
Throughout the show, Ranville combines a high degree of craft with an anarchic agenda. Roots Radical shows us the environment that you inhabit can also be the environment that inhabits you.