Aviva Rahmani

TRIGGER POINTS / TIPPING POINTS; COMPARING SITES
Photographs, digital prints, paintings and ink drawings on paper
Dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artist, 1997-2007

Artists look at complex systems with different tools than scientists. As an artist, I consider biogeographic systems much as I might consider a painting or a sculpture, with similar concerns about the beauty and complexity of the natural systems I am observing. Trigger Point Theory is my original idea about how small sites of restoration might impact greater bioregions. My thesis was that these sites might act as “tipping points,” to initiate nucleation for succession, and they could eventually overlap to support biodiversity. In Trigger Points. Tipping Points, I compared two moments in time in the performative restoration project, Ghost Nets, and contextualizing that comparison, in larger systems (as seen in this painting.)

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Ghost Nets was a project that applied aesthetic skills to the process of restoring a small coastal site as a work of art (1990-2000), as both conceptual and artistic research. In this case, I compared my observations of three sites for restoration, in a larger context: Ghost Nets in 1997, Ghost Nets in 2007, and Riverhead, New York. In the photographs, I was comparing two views of the Ghost Nets site in restoration on Vinalhaven Island, Maine. The first set of photographs shows the site in 1997, at the time that daylighting (the removal of fill that had obstructed tidal flushing in a small estuary) was being completed. In that photograph, the backhoe machinery can be seen at work. It also shows other aspects of the site at that time. The work-in-progress under way to restore the degraded riparian zone, had been initiated in 1990. The entire site had been previously degraded by granite quarrying and historical use as a town dump, after the quarry was closed in the last century. The estuarine system had been buried in coastal fill from the quarrying industry. The second series of photographs, taken in 2007, illustrates the slow succession of habitat restoration, fostered in a state of collaboration between systems and human use. The satellite images and paintings are studies in how Riverhead might become a trigger point.

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Presenting this work as an installation was conceived in a larger large landscape context of considering coastal restoration for the entire Gulf of Maine, as a series of “trigger points.” That premise was theoretically tested at a number of additional sites. In this case, by conceiving of a site south of the Ghost Nets project, in Riverhead, the location of the “Called to Action,” exhibition which included these works, as another possible site of nucleation. The interest in these sites was based on the idea that these restorations might support fish habitats, as indicators for habitat health.

Aviva Rahmani

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