I Speak for the Trees: A Mock Trial

A Blade of Grass Fellow Aviva Rahmani’s Blued Trees Symphony is an ecological artwork created with the intention of using copyright law (VARA) to defend land in New York, Virginia, and West Virginia that is subject to eminent domain because of proposed natural gas pipelines.

The Cardozo School of Law Environmental Law Society; Art Law Society; and Intellectual Property Student Association welcome us to the Jacob Burns Moot Court Room for a mock trial that will explore whether the status of the artwork under VARA trumps eminent domain takings by corporations. Experienced VARA litigator Gale Elston (Cardozo alumna) will represent the artist.

11. Aviva Rahmani 2016

Ecological artist Aviva Rahmani is the inaugural ABOG Fellow for Contemplative Practice, in partnership with the Hemera Foundation. This targeted fellowship supports artists who work with the intersection of social practice and contemplative practice.

Rahmani’s PhD, “Trigger Point Theory as Aesthetic Activism,” was awarded from Plymouth University, UK in 2015. Research for her PhD contributed to The Blued Trees Symphony (2015 – present), an international project that has been installed and copyrighted in the path of natural gas pipelines across many miles of the American continent at multiple sites. It is an aspect of Gulf to Gulf (2009- present), a New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) sponsored project exploring how art might affect climate change policies. The Blued Trees Symphony was awarded a NYFA Fellowship in 2016, as well as a grant from the Ethelwyn Doolittle Justice and Outreach Fund of the Community Church of New York, Unitarian Universalist.

Aviva Rahmani began her career as a performance artist, founding and directing the American Ritual Theatre (1968-1971), which performed throughout California. Her work has been exhibited and published internationally and she has produced over thirty, one-hour long raw Gulf to Gulf sessions which have been viewed on line by over eighty-five countries. “Trigger Points/ Tipping Points,” a precursor to Gulf to Gulf, premiered at the 2007 Venice Biennale. In 2009, Rahmani began presenting performance workshops on her theoretical approach to environmental restoration. The first event at the Survival Academy in Copenhagen, Denmark, was part of her participation as a formal observer for the University of Colorado at Boulder (UCB) at the United Nations IPCC conference on climate change.

Rahmani received an Arts and Healing Network award in 2009 for her work on water. In graduate school, she was teaching assistant to Allan Kaprow and Morton Sobotnick. She is currently an Affiliate at the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), University of Colorado Boulder. Previous ecological art projects have resulted in the restoration of a former dump site to a flourishing wetlands system, Ghost Nets, 1990-2000 (www.ghostnets.com), and helped catalyze a USDA expenditure of $500,000 to restore 26 acres of critical wetlands habitat (the Blue Rocks project) in the Gulf of Maine. In 1999 and 2000 Rahmani was a recipient of the Nancy H. Gray Foundation for Art in the Environment grant for her work on the Ghost Nets project. In 2015 she was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Ecology Residency with the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) to work on the Newtown Creek superfund site.

We’re grateful that this program is made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; the support of the American Chai Trust; and, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


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