“Nature” and “wilderness” are cultural representations: they are reflections of our own desires and phantasms. Despite their meanings and differences, these concepts both refer to what is non-human. The evolution of these notions reflects our relationship with the world. Are the notions of “nature” and “wilderness” helpful when thinking about our relationship with the environment or are they restrictive and outdated concepts? What happens when parts of nature become legal entities? How do we discuss the notion of “property” in the Anthropocene? How do we evaluate our moral responsibility for climate change? How do non-human made objects raise ethical questions about their legal statuses in our contemporary society?
About the Participants
Ben G. Price is National Organizing Director for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). In 2006 he helped draft and see enacted the very first law on Earth to recognize enforceable rights for Nature. This accomplishment led to his organization being invited to help draft the language in Ecuador’s 2010 adopted national constitution recognizing the rights of Mother Earth – the first nation on the planet to do so. Over thirty other U.S. communities have enacted CELDF laws recognizing the Rights of Nature, including the City of Pittsburgh in 2010. This year, the citizens of Toledo enacted the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, to protect this once great lake from industrial ecocide. Ben's book, titled “How Wealth Rules the World: Saving Our Communities and Freedoms from the Dictatorship of Property,” was published by Berrett-Kohler in May, 2019.
Raina Martens is a transdisciplinary artist from Washington, DC. Using trash, industrial waste, and soil as source material, they make ceramic artifacts that slip between geologic and human timescales, telling stories grounded in the earth but decidedly entangled with the social. Raina is a founding member of Urban Soils Institute’s Art Extension Service, and helped design Project: Soils, a collaborative initiative between artists and soil scientists. Website. Contact.
About NATURA NATURANS
NATURA NATURANS is an artist-driven educational experiment that consists of lectures, workshops, field trips, and an exhibition exploring our changing understanding of nature in the Anthropocene. Curated by the artist Anne-Sophie Coiffet, who divides her time between DC and Paris, this twelve-week project examines topics as varied and interrelated as the co-mingling of natural and human objects and systems, securing legal status for ecosystems, silent places and acoustical trash, genetically modified crops and butterflies, space junk and oceanic micro-plastic, and more.
September 13–14, 2019