Telematic Rivers

Erica Kermani’s artwork seeks to answer a central question: if rivers were seeing an equal, living entity, would humans take issues like climate change threatening them more seriously? In his year-long art exhibition in 2017, Kermani, in collaboration with Diana Salcedo & Jeana Chesnik, created a new forum of interaction between humans and rivers to explore this question. Participants would enter a conference room like the space in the Occupy Earth exhibit at the University of Aalto in Helsinki, Finland, with monitors representing the Seine River in Paris and the East River in New York City, given a voice and equal agency as would any other party in the room. The goal of the exhibit is to shift both the conversations we have about pressing issues facing the environment and the popular Western perception that rivers and other such natural entities exist as resources that can be extracted, rather than living entities with rights similar to those of humans. The Rights of Nature doctrine in Ecuador that granted rights to nature and the personhood granted to New Zealand’s Whanganui River both show a shift in legal and popular consciousness about entities once thought inanimate and ripe for extraction, and this work capitalizes on that shift. The exhibit only lasted a year, but the artist appears to still be active and pursuing other artworks that explore this concept.


Climate Change, Ecological Monitoring, Lifestyle, Monitoring, Pollution, Visual Technologies