Maria Thereza Alves

Recipes for Survival
Seeing you

Minus One Dimension: Zinneke Reflections


Minus One Dimension: Zinneke Reflections, 1995

Site specific installations and guided walks

The artist traced the path of the Zinneke River, which had been covered over, through backyards, abandoned lots and the sidewalks of Molenbeek, a neighbourhood made up of working class Belgians and Turkish immigrants in Brussels. Alves was interested in what happens to a river that is removed from its physical surroundings and thereby looses its urban context as well as which interactions are lost once a river (or any body of water) is covered over. The artist studied the remaining rivers of Brussels and discovered that the reflection of an object in water changes our definition of that object and these new visual possibilities open up situations for us.

If a wind blows or a boat sails by, the turbulence causes currents on the water, which can make the straightness of a streetlight wander and sway in to coils which collide into the reflection of a brick wall which spirals to meet the reflection of a security camera. Alves was interested in how we were losing these possibilities of seeing and therefore thinking in a different way.

Alves photographed reflections in the water and then cut out their shapes on fabrics usually used to cover the surfaces of our homes such as carpets, curtains and tablecloths. The reflections include a plane’s vapour trail, a topiary, two refugees, a security camera, a crane, a dog, a door, a window, a stone, steps, a tree etc. One was made for each day of the month long exhibit. They were rolled up and easily portable. Guided tours were made by Alves of the former site of the covered over Zinneke River. Visitors helped place a reflection and sometimes would find a reflection placed earlier. The reflections were left on the site until they disappeared.

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