Events

Testing the Legal Power of Art to Stop a Pipeline

A Blade of Grass and the Cardozo School of Law are hosting a mock trial for Aviva Rahmani’s ecological art projects to stop the use of eminent domain for pipeline construction.

Trees being painted in Rensselaer County, New York, location of Kinder Morgan's Northeast Direct Project, a proposed pipeline expansion (photo by Jack Baran, 2015; courtesy Aviva Rahmani)
Trees being painted in Rensselaer County, New York, location of Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Direct Project, a proposed pipeline expansion (photo by Jack Baran, 2015; courtesy Aviva Rahmani)

It’s not easy to stop the construction of natural gas pipelines, but several years ago the ecological artist and activist Aviva Rahmani came up with an ingenious idea: what if you could protect threatened landscapes by turning them into art? She’s been taking her sprawling land art projects “The Blued Trees” and “The Blued Trees Symphony” to locations in New York, Virginia, and West Virginia, in hopes that by having them protected by the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA), she can prevent the use of eminent domain to seize lands where the artworks are situated for pipeline construction.

Trees painted with a casein of buttermilk and ultramarine blue pigment to grow moss in Brush Mountain, Virginia, location of proposed New Market pipeline (photo by Robin Boucher, 2016; courtesy Aviva Rahmani)
Trees painted with a casein of buttermilk and ultramarine blue pigment to grow moss in Brush Mountain, Virginia, location of proposed New Market pipeline (photo by Robin Boucher, 2016; courtesy Aviva Rahmani)

“I regard the legal aspects of ‘Blued Trees’ in the long lineage of social practice and social sculpture art,” Rahmani told Hyperallergic in 2015. “It is about shaping systems, a far more complex idea than protest. The fact that it was designed for pipeline corridors is about culture jamming site specificity in the art world. I’m not just saying ‘no’ to something — I’m suggesting another way of experiencing the world we live in, which includes environmental ethics and our legal system.”

On Wednesday, by way of testing out the effectiveness and legal limits of Rahmani’s projects, the Cardozo School of Law Environmental Law Society, the Art Law Society, and the Intellectual Property Student Association will carry out a mock trial of “The Blued Trees” and “The Blued Trees Symphony.” Seasoned VARA litigator and Cardozo alum Gale Elston will represent Rahmani, with attorney Steven Honigman as co-counsel. The event is being organized by A Blade of Grass, where Rahmani is currently a fellow.

When: Wednesday, April 25, at 6pm
Where: Jacob Burns Moot Court Room, Cardozo School of Law (55 Fifth Avenue, Greenwich Village, Manhattan)

Trees painted with a casein of buttermilk and ultramarine blue pigment to grow moss in Brush Mountain, Virginia, location of proposed New Market pipeline (photo by Sarah Miller, 2016; courtesy Aviva Rahmani)
Trees painted with a casein of buttermilk and ultramarine blue pigment to grow moss in Brush Mountain, Virginia, location of proposed New Market pipeline (photo by Sarah Miller, 2016; courtesy Aviva Rahmani)

More info at A Blade of Grass.

comments (0)