Maria Thereza Alves

Recipes for Survival
Seeing you

Barra / Barre


Barra / Barre , 1992

(collaboration with Lyne Lapointe)
Site specific installation

Alves was given access to a small ranch about 12 kilometres from the town of Corumbá, in the midst of the Pantanal in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. It is an immense wetland on the Paraguay River bordering Bolivia. The work, entitled Barra/Barre, for which she invited the Canadian artist, Lynn Lapointe would consist of two aspects. One, an installation, which was important due to the historical context of the area: in particular, the assassination of the Guarani indigenous leader Tupã-Y (Marçal de Souza). At the same time, due to the disappearance of fence lines and other landmarks resulting from the seasonal rise in water, a confusion of the sense of place resulted and the work explores the ephemerality of the idea of the possessive mine, yours with the  "out there/not my" which the water can undo.

Simultaneously, the artist investigated the feasibility of a cultural model that would be more inclusive of diverse voices than the current situation (at the time) of cultural domination by European-Brazilian elites in São Paulo City, resulting in the cultural silence of everywhere else in Brazil. Alves thought she could do this by meeting with musicians, poets, historians, architects, ecologists, scientists and others with the idea that with the seriousness of our work and efforts we would make Corumba the centre and break up the hierarchy of culture dictated by São Paulo. This was not accomplished.

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