Maria Thereza Alves

Recipes for Survival
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Una proposta di sincretismo (questa volta senza genocidio) / A Proposal for Syncretism (this time without genocide)


Una proposta di sincretismo (questa volta senza genocidio) / A Proposal for Syncretism (this time without genocide), 2018

Installation (tiles, wood, metal frame)
Dimensions 270(h) x 260 (w) x 100 (d) cm

The work was commissioned by Manifesta 12 in Palermo, curated by Bregtje van der Haak, Andres Jaque, Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli and Mirjam Varadinis.

“A Proposal for Syncretism (this time without genocide)” began with a few antique tiles of exotic parrots from Brazil seen in the flea market of Piazza Marina. They were remnants of a common motif in Palermo, "Birds of Paradise" consisting of non-local and local birds on the corners of a panel celebrating an event such as a new castle/home. The baroque of Europe through colonization was forcibly implanted throughout Latin America. I find the baroque of Brazil, Mexico and Peru to be particularly powerful with indigenous and in the first case also African influences. Although syncretism continues to be celebrated by some in the Americas's continual colonial context as though freely chosen by those who were colonized instead of as evidences of attempts of survivance at the cost of the destruction of most of one’s culture under extreme duress and genocidal situations. Such as was the case in Brazil precisely during the apogee of the baroque when it was prohibited to speak the Tupi indigenous language upon pain of death. “A Proposal for Syncretism (this time without genocide)” is a new work which alludes to the present foodscapes and landscapes of Sicily where the nopal cactus (fico d'india !) and agave from Mexico, tomatoes and potatoes from the Andean region, and the Jacaranda and Ceiba speciosa trees from Brazil come to form a new syncretism which has become incorporated by Sicilians, at times, as welcome contemporary definitions of the region. And of course, the parrots of Brazil which were smart enough to escape their captivity for crimes never committed.

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