Maria Thereza Alves

Recipes for Survival
Seeing you

Direct and Circumstantial. Relevant Evidences in Naples, Butia, Kassel and Ubatuba


Direct and Circumstantial. Relevant Evidences in Naples, Butia, Kassel and Ubatuba, 2022.

Site-specific installation with carpets, a documentary photo essay and a publication commissioned by documenta fifteen, curated by ruangrupa.

To give us a common place to begin as a collective, Jimmie Durham, shortly before his death, suggested that we go to the woods or even a parking lot and sit down and spend some time looking precisely around us – wherever we were. It is a comfortable circle of about a meter and a half. It is a way to introduce yourself to the place and for the place to introduce itself to you. To begin to be in the place.

For documenta fifteen and as being part of the collective Jimmie Durham & A Stick in the Forest by the Side of the Road Alves realised two commissioned carpet works. On Responsibilities Acquired while on a Stroll in a Garden in Europe represents four plants (Oak, Ivy, Butia and Poke) that Alves found while strolling through the Capodimonte garden in Naples. Made up of local flora as well as exotics, the garden can be seen as colonial spoils of the Spanish Empire. Among the four plants which compose the carpet, the Butia Palm Tree and the Poke Plant are personal as her father is originated from the same village named for the Butia where none now exists due to deforestation. The Poke Plant, from Cherokee territory was one of Jimmie Durham's favorite plants to eat. The other carpet, On the Need of Remembering Here before the Onslaught of There Began, celebrates some flora that reminds us of the Atlantic Forest, of which about 93 percent has been destroyed since colonization. But some flora still exist, at the moment: Jequitiba, Guaparuvu, Ipe Roxo, Embauba, and the vine Ysypo marilombre from which a tea can be made for remembering.

The documentary photography essay Fashion Squad references an Arte 1 Television show the artist watched in 2016 while in Brazil. The hosts of the show Esquadrão de Moda (Fashion Squad) explain to Jessica Vitoria that they will “fix up” her look and begin by criticising her clothing and feather terere, a hair decoration with feathers. Jessica Vitoria said that they could do anything regarding her clothes but could not remove her terere.  Forty minutes later, Jessica Vitoria’s feathered terere is removed. This episode is a visual documentation of the quotidian colonial coercion to remove all that is Indigenous in Brazil and celebrate the state imposed “modernizing Brazilianess” that was affirmed by those artists who celebrated the introduction of modernity in 1922 in Brazil.

The publication Direct and Circumstantial. Relevant Evidences in Naples, Butia, Kassel and Ubatuba is part of Alves’ documenta fifteen contribution and is part of the collective book published by documenta fifteen and Verlag und Buchhandlung Walther König. The book can be ordered through Walther König.

also part of: