2014.05.17

By copyrighting his property as an artwork, he has prevented oil companies from drilling on it.

Peter Von Tiesenhausen has developed artworks all over his property in northern Alberta.  There’s a boat woven from sticks that is gradually being reclaimed by the land; there is a fence that he adds to each year of his life, and there are many “watching” trees, with eyes scored into their bark.

Oil interests pester him continually about drilling on his land.  His repeated rebuffing of their advances lead them to move toward arbitration.  They made it very clear that he only owned the top 6 inches of soil, and they had rights to anything underneath.  He then, off the top of his head, threatened them that he would sue damages if they disturbed his 6 inches, for the entire property is an artwork.  Any disturbance would compromise the work, and he would sue.

This is super fascinating, and according to this article, at least mostly true (it’s an art magazine, so they talk about that more than the legal stuff).

Alberta is to the east of me, and BC is currently fighting over the pipeline to carry the oil to the port. That pipeline will travel through our province because we stand between Alberta and the Pacific Ocean. We take a lot of pride in our forest, but that industry is losing out to oil. The whole province is losing out to oil, actually, which has the jobs right now and most of the money in Canada. We’re working through our feelings about oil, but there’s so little room to fight, not when you need to make a living.

Keeping making art, dude. I can get behind that.