Maria Thereza Alves

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You Will Go Away One Day But I Will Not


You Will Go Away One Day But I Will Not, 2020

A Spatial Sound Installation

Maria Thereza Alves’ work You Will Go Away One Day But I Will Not was made in collaboration with the composer Lucrecia Dalt in the Botanical Gardens Berlin as part of the CTM Festival, Festival for Adventurous Music and Art 2020. The work was commissioned by the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Botanic Garden & Botanical Museum Berlin, Die Junge Akademie, Deutschlandfunk Kultur, and CTM Festival, with spatial sound production from usomo | unique sonic moments.

“This renaming of things is so crucial to possession—a spiritual padlock with the key thrown irretrievably away—that is a murder, an erasing, and it is not surprising that when people have felt themselves prey to it (conquest), among their first acts of liberation is to change their names (Rhodesia to Zimbabwe, LeRoi Jones to Amiri Baraka).”
– Jamaica Kincaid

The spatial sound installation You Will Go Away One Day But I Will Not focuses on decolonizing the Western practice of using Western scientific nomenclature to name plants worldwide. The audience is invited to walk through the tropical greenhouse wearing headphones that track each user’s movements to generate individualised binaural sonic experiences (composed by Dalt). The piece is fully reactive to the walkers movements. Besides the sonic scape there are 26 botanical name plaques with Guarani names alongside existing plants in the Botanical Garden's greenhouse.

For this work Alves has collaborated with the Guarani people of the Jaguapiru Reservation in Dourados in Mato Grosso do Sul in Brazil. She asked longtime collaborator, Guarani teacher, and local reservation leader Maximino Rodrigues and his community to begin the conversation on decolonial renaming of plants with her. In this process names of many plants and their honouring songs were given to be part of the work. For instance, the community named what we know as Nymphoides humboldtianawith Yvoty mboporã pónhuregua, meaning “five-sided flower of the spirit of the fields and forests: you will go away one day but I will not.”. The complexity of Guarani thought emerges, as does its relationality to other beings and their surroundings. With this work Alves continues her long standing artistic focus of decolonization and on colonial issues especially in the Americas and counters the colonists’ tactic of naming that which had a name before.

PDF with all plants named by the Guarani community

Video walk through the Exhibition in Botanischer Garten Berlin, Tropenhaus (3 min, 27 sec)
---> The video was produced by Deutschlandfunk Kultur 2020 (Credits: Model: Zuzia Jablonska; Kamera: Sil Egger und Christiane Schmidt; Schnitt: Sonja Rebel; Regie: Uli Dziallas). The sound walk was streamed at Deutschlandfunk Kultur on March 6th, 2020. Total length 48 minutes.

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