©Nature: Ecological Artist Uses Copyright Law to Prevent a New Pipeline

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Aviva Rahmani
Trees from the second movement of the Blued Trees symphony.

The most effective solutions meet threats head-on with positive and highly innovative thinking. This is certainly the approach behind ecological artist Aviva Rahmani’s new activist art installation. Facing the threat of fossil fuel expansions and a new natural gas pipeline, resident-activists enlisted the help of Rahmani in the quiet hamlet of Peekskill, New York. Nestled in the Hudson Valley, Peekskill is one of many picturesque towns that could be drastically and negatively impacted by the Algonquin pipeline expansion proposed by Spectra Energy.

Rahmani’s unexpected response has the potential to transform environmental activism. With the goal of exploring whether copyright law can be leveraged to protect natural habitats, Rahmani has designed an interdisciplinary symphonic art project as a permanent installation on private property directly in the path of the proposed pipeline. The project, entitled Blued Trees, is integrated into the flora of the site. Waves printed on trees are conceived as notes for a musical composition. An international “Greek Chorus” was also initiated as part of the overture. On October 4, a full symphony of the piece was performed and video-documented at multiple locations.

In a defiant and innovative action, Rahmani has filed a federal copyright to protect Blued Trees, citing the Visual Artists Rights Act, which asserts the “moral rights of art” against destruction. The next step in the legal process will be a cease-and-desist notification to Spectra Energy.

Blued Trees is an element of Rahmani’s Gulf to Gulf project, sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts in an effort to use art to impact global climate policy. A brief film on the Blued Trees “overture” launch can be viewed at: https://vimeo.com/channels/943134.

Rahmani’s work is known for using art to effect environmental change in projects ranging from landscape restorations to museum venues. She is an affiliate at the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a PhD candidate at the University of Plymouth, in the UK.