12 Mountains

'12 Mountains' is a project for which I am filming twelve mountains around the world in timelapse over one-year cycles. Each of these Mountains has been chosen because kindship is recognized and honored by human communities that share the land with the Mountains. In the final installation, all the Mountains will be brought together in council.

‘12 Mountains’ is a collaborative effort. As the artist, my role is to carry out the work of filming the Mountains and collaborating with their extended human communities. Each film will exist as an individual piece which belongs to all participants within the Mountain community to use as they wish, as well as belonging to the ‘12 Mountains’ project.

Taranaki Maunga in Aotearoa (or New Zealand) inspired the entire project and is the first Mountain to be filmed. I have followed Taranaki Maunga’s petition for legal personhood since 2018. The inspiring use of the legal system for the purpose of granting rights to land, environment, and the lives and spirits therein presents profound possibilities for the protection and representation of our sacred planet. 

It struck me that if we are collectively aware and responsible enough to grant Mountains and Rivers and Forests legal personhood, then we should also practice listening to what they have to say. The story of Taranaki Maunga—and Whanganui River and Te Urewera—has the potential to inspire other such protections for Mountains, Rivers, Lands, and Oceans around the world.

I came across this whakataukī: Pūkenga maunga, rerenga wai. It has been translated to "Where there are peaks, water flows." This whakataukī captures what I believe is the purpose of this work: for earthly wisdom to flow to all so that it may spiritually nourish, teach, and connect us.