Arboreal identity

Posted July 3, 2012 by Maja Kuzmanović

When attempting to give nature a voice in today’s society, what better way to start than giving trees legal identities? Heath Bunting’s Identity Bureau has been travelling to various cultural events offering human legal identities for sale; 'demonstrating that identity can be constructed by placing an “individual” inside the web of mobile phones, bank accounts, administrative correspondence and other person-related data. Identity Bureau questions the notion of personality by showing how an identity is constructed largely by material issues'.

With his previous experience in creating legal identities for humans, Heath Bunting now takes up FoAM’s challenge to help trees become legal entities in the cities and nation states where they grow. Trees will become part of a the world of human social fictions, such as job applications, postal addresses and bank transactions; they could also possess legally protected rights. There are precedents for this kind of thinking, such as codifying the legal "Rights of Nature" and ecosystems in Ecuador’s constitution. To explore the social and legal consequences of non-human entities being represented in anthropocentric governance structures, Heath Bunting and An Mertens will guide us through the process of creating a persona grata for selected trees in Brussels.

In collaboration with Z33, FoAM will host a two-day workshop from 26 July to learn what it takes to treat trees as legal persons with bank accounts, residence permits and access to libraries.