This project takes as its starting point the granting of legal personhood to the Whanganui River on the North Island of New Zealand in 2017, when it became the world’s second natural environment (after Te Urewera also in New Zealand in 2014) to be given its own legal identity, with the rights, duties and liabilities of a legal person. From here, we have been considering the potential world-building tools we have been learning from this lab - from exchanging our knowledge with one another and prototyping our conversations into a world that gives imagination to much needed socio-ecological transformations in light of these developments in environmental law.
The All River and Species Act 2021 - PDF
Working together on this project are: Anna Luna Cappelletti, Ibelisse Guardia Ferragutti, Jenny Handley, Lily McCraith, Cristina Napoleone, Nayeli Vega, Jemma Woolmore and GPT2.
We are exploring ways of decentering ourselves as the creators by collaborating with GPT2 generated text, sound collaborations with AI and 3D imagery. There may also space for revealing process or performative aspects in interacting with these elements and the river, drawing on actions and bodily connections to water that may help connect a global audience to the universality of water animacy.
Watch The All Rivers and Species Act 2021 video
Our process began by trying to find a voice or voices for the river. We explored the inadequacies of legal frameworks and, by extension, the abilities and constraints of language to accurately capture and define a river ecosystem in all its facets. We pondered where a river begins and ends: exploring the perspectives, experiences and happenings in the lives of non-human dwellers. We explored Indigenous ways of being with rivers, interweaving rituals and stories. We try to capture the songs, spirits and the many voices that co-exist in simultaneity within river worlds. We aim to create our own serious yet playful legal river policy framework and processes for engaging with rivers in their totality.