Clara Montoya defines herself as a sculptor, although she constructs machines and is obsessed with non-human life forms. One of her latest projects is entitled (‘YOU’) and is linked to research into the Whanganui, the third longest and most navigable river in New Zealand. It is also one of the first rivers in the world to be legally granted personhood status after the longest lawsuit in the country’s history. This designation, as well as the dialogue established between the parties involved in its recognition, invite us to explore the parameters of the construction of the idea of personhood and community identity, the limits between the individual and the environment. In this Open University session, Clara Montoya invites Professor Teresa Vicente to discuss different cases that question the perceptions of the natural environment that are established through legal text.                                                                    

Clara Montoya works between Brussels and Madrid. The relationship between events, narratives and conceptual challenges is key to her work. Her works take the form of ritual experiments that seek to test real facts and expand the scientific imagination. She has been conceded numerous acknowledgements, such as the Botín Foundation arts grant, Junge Akademie der Kunst (ADK Berlin), and the artist residency grant from TAMAT in Tournai, Belgium. Her work has been exhibited at Tabacalera Promoción del Arte, Madrid; the Royal Academy of Spain, Rome; and the Nirox Foundation, Johannesburg, among others.

Teresa Vicente is Professor of Philosophy of Law and Chair in Human Rights and Natural Rights at the University of Murcia. After practising law from 1987 to 1994, her research and academic publications have focused on environmental justice, social rights, legal feminism and children’s rights. In 2019, together with a group of lawyers, scientists and activists, she led a citizens’ initiative to give legal personhood status to the Mar Menor lagoon, in the region of Murcia, thereby entitling it to its own rights.

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