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Member Spotlight: Aviva Rahmani

Monday, March 28, 2022 9:00 AM | Callie Smith


March 28, 2022

This week we recognize the work of artist  Aviva Rahmani.

"Working with others across disciplines to effect ecological restoration and change environmental policy with art is a hallmark of my practice. I have engaged with both the scientific and the legal aspects of change to explore environmental justice grounded in environmental science to change systems. The most recent expression of that concern in my work has been The Blued Trees Symphony (2015-present), a series of installations across North America. That work has been realized with teams of local activists in corridors where fossil fuel infrastructure have been planned and in international venues to replace anthropocentric models with models from art which are more appropriate to the Anthropocene era."

Blue Trees Symphony is a spatial and acoustic outdoor installation across North America, embodying trigger point theory. The installation covers many miles of proposed pipeline expansions, exploring how art, science, and law can change environmental policies about fossil fuels. The installation is composed of trees marked with a painted vertical sine wave. Each marked tree is GPS located, indicating an aerial musical score for an overture. Using copyright law, the artwork on the trees is protected, subsequently protecting the land from eminent domain takings for pipeline development.

The Blued Trees Symphony launched on the Summer Solstice, June 21, 2015, with an overture in Peekskill, New York. It is now installed in many miles of proposed pipeline expansions. Individual trees were painted and musical variations of the score were performed to echo the theme of connectivity to all life. The paint for each vertical sine wave is a casein slurry of nontoxic ultramarine blue and buttermilk that grows moss (based on a Japanese gardening technique).

"Blue Rocks (2002) was an example of what curators Amy Lipton and Sue Spaid termed an ecovention, a place where art intervenes in environmental degradation. Forty large boulders painted blue, drawing attention to an obstructed causeway on Pleasant River, Vinalhaven Island, Maine. The ecovention included the painting of the boulders by the river and a “wash-in,” which came as a response to being subpoenaed from the town to clean the rocks, to educate the local community about estuarine health. The project included GIS mapping. The site choice applied Trigger Point Theory. My task was to investigate how the restoration of this small site could have regional impact. It was at a significant confluence of ecotones (transitions between systems)."

Blue Sea Lavender (2009) was a series of events and performances in Maine based upon a mythical plant. The one-day event explored the loss of species diversity in the Gulf of Maine mediated through the narration of Blue Sea Lavender who has “lost my children, my family, my community, my home.” The event included consecutively singing Puccini's Vissi d'arte in a public preserve over a six-hour period. The day before, large drawings of the mythical plant were created on the sand of two local preserve parking lots using branches, rocks and water, knowing that cars would destroy the drawings, as people have destroyed many species across the earth.

The event was a sequence of performances during the one-day “site-specific" show curated by Pat Nick on August 19, 2009. A subtheme of the show was the celebration of recently installed wind power turbines on Vinalhaven Island to serve the Fox Islands.

Aviva Rahmani is a Pioneering ecological artist who has worked at the cutting edge of the avant-garde since she committed to her career in art at the age of nineteen. She has devoted many years of her working life to teaching, inspiring, and leading others through her art to a renewed focus on ecological restoration as artmaking. Rahmani is at the forefront of her field in ecological art and exhibits, publishes, and presents internationally. She currently lives and works in Manhattan and Maine and has recently completed a residency with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council on Governors Island, New York. avivarahmani.com

Featured Images: ©Aviva Rahmani, "Blued Trees Symphony" (2015-ongoing), "Blue Rocks" (2002), "Blue Sea Lavender" (2009).

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