Born São Paulo, Brasil (1961), lives and works in Berlin, Germany
Refuge of Beings at Tafawa Balewa Square 2024
Courtesy of the artist
Commissioned by Lagos Biennial 2024
In her work, Maria Thereza Alves uncovers multiple cultural histories in South and Central America and addresses the relationship between knowledge forms, language, nature and community, thus affirming that 500 years of colonial domination have not erased the knowledge and resilience of different ecologies and peoples. Alves’s projects often investigate strategies of survival by giving space and voice to silenced histories.
With her work Refuge of Beings at Tafawa Balewa Square, Alves especially addresses the question to whom space, and especially urban spaces belong to. In urban spaces, the more-than-human can find it challenging to find places of refuge – to sleep and shelter from the elements. Working with materials such as adobe, Maria Thereza Alves has constructed homes for beings including insects, reptiles and birds and inserted them into the architectures and spaces of Tafawa Balewa Square. These shelters encourage a more profound, interdependent and inclusive possibility of community.
Climate change reveals a lack of concern and stewardship of the land and more than human beings. A local neighbourhood includes more than humans. Through the installation our sense of community could be enlarged and opened up to a parallel society which inhabits with us a specific territory, reminding us that these beings have the same rights as us to be considered in social decision making. The process of urbanisation produces beings whose daily relational complexities with other beings have been minimalized, severed or destroyed, removing the possibilities of ecosystems to function and maintain life.
Maria Thereza Alves’s work is included in Gregarious architectures.