the trial

Unifying non-linear worlds: a new form of justice

The perspective of this futuristic court is ecocentric, emphasizing the equality of humans and non-humans to ensure the wellbeing of generations to come. This view is not as utopian as one might think. It embeds itself in the civil movements we see today (Urgenda, Klimaatzaak, Eradicating Ecocide by Polly Higgins,…), and the numerous lawsuits happening around the globe, where environmental crimes and climate change are rising. (among: children vs president (Obama case)/ youngsters vs EU (portuguese case)/ communities vs companies (Ecuador case).

During one year of research, I realized that at the core of environmental crimes is an actual vacuum in the juridical system, that disempowers how we as citizens can act. Since our juridical system is reactive rather than pro-active, the process of law-making is still behind on the ecological challenges of contemporary society and climate change: the laws that are in place do not protect nor the human, nor the non-human victims of environmental crimes, and do not prevent ecocides. We need a reform within the current justice-system and this trial, is a new protocol, a speculative version of a lawsuit, critically screened by a ‘fact-checker’ with legal expertise i.c. Hendrik Schoukens(BE) and Juan Auz (EQ).

The trial: connecting the whole

Since we are representing an entity with “no voice”, it is important to mention that ‘transformative process” is the core of this Trial for nature.

The script assembles a fictional lawsuit inspired by the documentation material collected in Ecuador and the US, alongside a wide range of contemporary law suits, literary and legal sources. Sébastien Hendrickx holds the pen, in close cooperation with the rest of the team. For the structure, the different roles and methods of expression, we refer to are western forms of justice, restorative justice as well as council of all beings and ceremony/ritual.

The script process helps us to intertwine the many possible conjugations we experiment with in order to invent a new vocabulary and create a “new language” that represents the complexity of the different systems. We interweave together several domains, namely trauma, experienced by violence, colonialism, extractivism and separation with nature. Juridical by representing the agency, silent victims, accomplices, accused ones and the ones in power. Ceremonial by learning our history, recognizing earth system, the planetary cycles, decolonizing of the self, purification and sacrifice. Restorative Justice-system by reclaiming responsibility, dignity, respect, trust, dignity, restoring, renewal and forgiveness.

Celebrating the audience: Nature will tell

The audience will be involved in a intimate process of a “transformation to happen”. The journey will be composed in three phases: Starting as grounding and acknowledge of the collective trauma/crime Transition as passage, dialogue, and acceptance. Reconciliation as renewal, reconciliation and restoration.

The trial will guide the audience into a journey of discovery through the cases of ecocide: focusing OIL vs Water. The ceremonial aspect of this piece invites forms of interaction, intimacy and social exchange in which the notion of an ‘encounter’ is central, thus the interactivity and immersion through the transformation is dependent on codes and effects through spatial, visual and temporal presence of forensics proves and natural elements. The difference in this trial relies on the relocation of agency and therefore empowerment from Nature to the spectator. This prepares the audience to step into a council of all beings and opening them up to hear the voice of nature. We are offering the audience a ‘level of agency’ by creatively contributing to the resolution of the case and by changing future configurations. By creating a new “ healing contract”.

New spaces for justice: ‘a court of the future’

It is not a new proposal to use references to trials in a theatrical setting. (f.e. Milo Rau, Yan Duyvendak & Roger Bernat, New World Summit …). What interests me in particular is bringing ecocide into the courtroom and by doing so opening the possibility of a dialogue between the human and the non-human. How can nature be represented in court?

The court room is a mobile tribune, hybrid architecture and therefore implemented on location.

The installation formulates a new proposal for the classical set-up of the courtroom. All known elements and roles are present, but transformed into new assemblages, evolving to a more ecology of space where co-creation and mobility can emerge. I like to think of the scenography as a living organism, a regenerative space, transforming and disappearing during the four hours performance. I like to imagine that at the end there is nothing left inside. Only humans, ashes and a new form of life. The scenograpghy is designed to symbolize the 4 elements: Fire, Air, Earth, Water. The installation is circular and refers to unity, completeness, and integrity. Architecturally and performatively the attention is brought to the centre by using sacred geometry. We give attention to the many forms observed in nature, as well to the geometrical symbolism of logarithmic spiral, fractals and recursive geometries as they are principles of interconnectedness to the whole. The space will bring the audience into ever changing constellations, shifting from red, white, black lights and forest, sea and sky soundscapes. There will be moments for sitting, laying around, walking, and taking part in rituals.

*we will choose it’s locations on the basis of recognizing geographically a “sacred” territory in the city or simply deserving respect to a “site” with cultural and holistic heritage. We hunt the flows of nature, like Jože Plečnik was doing with his timeless, humanistic and sacral architecture and like indigenous would cosmically relate to their territories.