The All Rivers and Species Act 2021

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 use world-building tools mixed with craft techniques to prototype fantastic beings fighting for legal rights of the rivers and bodies of water. These beings relate to the urgent need of global socio-ecological transformations.

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 rituals and stories. We weaved together 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.

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.

Read the Act here...

Working together on this project are: Anna Luna Cappelletti, Ibelisse Guardia Ferragutti, Jenny Hadley, Lily McCraith, Cristina Napoleone, Nayeli Vega, Jemma Woolmore and GPT2.