Maria Thereza Alves is a São Paulo-born, Berlin-based artist who has been presenting work internationally since the 80s. Bearing witness to a host of silenced, unwritten stories, Alves’ work has grown out of interacting with various physical and social settings and working to understand the struggles embedded within them in an effort to decolonise knowledge.
Developing through dialogue with various agents, Alves’ practice considers local needs, material and ecological realities, in addition to social conditions. While situated in Western dichotomies between nature and culture, art and politics, and art and everyday life, her work deliberately refuses easy classification. Instead, it aims to create spaces laden with potential for action and allowing for visibility for oppressed cultures; such practices of collaboration require constant movement across all these boundaries.
Alves’ output comprises texts, videos, mixed media installations, drawings, photographs, performances, situations, talks, and documentation. Contemplating relationality and embodying a rhizomatic approach, Alves creates important, over-looked entry points into understanding the dynamics that have shaped our world.
For two decades, Alves has been documenting non-native plant species to chart movement and displacement as a result of migration and slave trade. The project, known as “Seeds of Change,” led to Alves being awarded with the Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics in 2017. Alvez has exhibited at the Paris Triennial, Guangzhou Triennial, (d)OCUMENTA 13 in Kassel, the São Paulo Biennial, and the Taipei Biennial, among others.