In order to protect the environment and its creatures from devastation, advocates must make use of national and international legal systems. The irony of this situation is profound, given that it is the prejudices and limitations of those same systems that have in many cases led to the degradation of the natural world. Conceptual artists like Elizabeth Shores are, surprisingly, quite well suited to working within such paradoxes, capable of seeing a million miles beyond them even while understanding their staid forms. And so, in an effort to safeguard natural resources, Shores became in 2015 the sole proprietor of My Presence is Productive, LLC, whose most recent declaration legally grants personhood to the sun. Why the sun, which has been around for 4.6 billion years and will continue to produce light for another 4.5 billion? Shores argues that it is one of the most perpetually exploited of resources. Now obviously the sun is not a person, but neither are corporations, and once upon a time neither were women or people of color. If human courts can’t understand rights except insofar as they are attached to personhood, then personhood is going to have to continue to stretch its definition, to the stratosphere and beyond.
—Lori Waxman 10/15/2023 1:05 PM