Maria Thereza Alves

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Decolonizing Botany / Jevy Jejapo-pyra Temití-tyre


Decolonizing Botany / Jevy Jejapo-pyra Temití-tyre, 2020

A work by Maria Thereza Alves with Ke´y Rusú Katupyry and Verá Poty Resakã.

The work was commissioned for the group exhibit, Rethinking Nature, curated by Kathryn Weir for Madre, Naples.

In the Botanical Gardens in Berlin, I looked at the names of plants from the Atlantic Forest where I am from in Brazil. Goethe is honored by having a plant named after him, as well as Humboldt and many other Europeans or their descendants in Brazil such as Burle Marx, the landscape architect who would only come to learn to see the plants of the Atlantic Forest while on a trip to visit these gardens in Berlin. Colonization is a forever process making event of theft of land, resources, bodies, beings and culture. The settler taking possession of, in this case, the Americas, requires renaming to consolidate the desired obliteration of the Indigenous. The use of Western scientific nomenclature is part of this desire. Decolonizing Botany is an attempt not only to question this practice but to engage the visitor with the complexity of Guarani thought and the importance of relationality to other beings and their surroundings. There was a world, a respect, an honoring of earth and beings before the invasion and which continues.

Ke´y Rusú Katupyry and Verá Poty Resakã are from the Jaguarpiru Reservation in Dourados, Mato Grosso do Sul in Brazil. "There has always been and still is, even with this destruction of forests, mines, and the expulsion of traditional peoples from our lands, the respect of the Guarani people and all ethnic groups for everything in nature, even if in our suffering, we still respect. The invasion destroys the vision and sounds, but not the memory of the Guarani people that is still very strong to show, reawaken moments of dormancy of respect for everything before the colonization / decolonization of the people. In respect, when we enter the forest, we first ask permission. In respect, we consider every plant a being that in the past was good, and its beauty enchants or heals people. The names of the plants come to us. We gather in the evening as a community and they tell us their names usually in song. So there is respect in everything, so earth and life for us, even being a plant."

Below some songs by some members of the Guarani community of the Jaguapiru Reservation in Dourados, Mato Grosso do Sul, organized by Ke´y Rusú Katupyry and Verá Poty Resakã as part of Decolonizing Botany / Jevy Jejapo-pyra Temití-tyre

Yvotyrã-gue mandu'arã ndevy – One day you will see me in white. Begonia lubbersii

Guapo ypere pegua ñato'í – I have water but am fragile, I have spirit. Costus scaber

YYvoty pere poty jehexa nga'u – Flower which enchants all men, women and children. Aechmea gracilis

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