Intra-Disciplinary Seminar Public Lecture: Maria Thereza Alves A'85

Tuesday, November 07, 2017, 7:00pm - 8:30pm

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MTA interviewing Busã Kaxinawá. Rio Branco, 2017. Photo credit by Wilma Lukatsch

The Intra-Disciplinary Seminar (IDS) Public Lecture Series presents a lecture by Maria Thereza Alves A'85 entitled "Borderless History". It is free and open to the public.

“I returned to my father’s village this past spring in the state of Parana in Brazil and discovered a former Nazi disguised as an evangelical pastor who has convinced my aunt that she is not indigenous. At the same time, he requested his workers to put on some banana fronds and dance like Indians…”

Maria Thereza Alves will speak about a manuscript she wrote in 1983 while a student at The Cooper Union: a path-breaking ethnography of three impoverished villages in Brazil, accompanied by 42 black and white photographs. Originally presented as “Brazilian Recipes”, it will be finally be published, in 2018, as “Recipes for Survival”.

Maria Thereza Alves (1961, Brazil, lives in Berlin, Germany) is an artist and co-founder of the Partido Verde of São Paulo, Brazil in 1988. In 1978 she made an official presentation on human rights abuses suffered by the indigenous population of Brazil at the U.N. Human Rights Conference in Geneva. More recently, Alves participated in the Bienal de São Paulo of 2016 with A Possible Reversal of Missed Opportunities, which attempts to decolonize the imagination within the Brazilian contemporary context. She also participated in dOCUMENTA (13) (2012) with The Return of a Lake, an installation addressing the deliberate desiccation of a lake in the now water-starved region of Chalco just south of Mexico City. Seeds of Change: A Floating Ballast Seed Garden, based on Alves's research of ballast flora, was a commissioned public work for Bristol harbor from 2012-2016. Alves also participated in the Sharjah Biennale for 2017 and had a solo show at MUAC in Mexico City (2014) and a survey exhibition at CAAC in Sevilla (2015). Alves is the recipient of the Vera List Prize for Art and Politics 2016-2018 and will be exhibiting Seeds of Change: New York…A Botany of Colonization at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, New York, opening November 3, 2017.

The IDS Public Lecture Series, organized by Leslie Hewitt and Omar Berrada, consists of lectures by artists, theorists, activists, designers, writers, curators and other practitioners involved in the arts from positions that embody an interdisciplinary approach or that imply new uses for disciplinary traditions. This event was organized in partnership with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics.

The IDS Public Lecture Series is part of the Robert Lehman Visiting Artist Program at The Cooper Union. We are grateful for major funding and support from the Robert Lehman Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Located in The Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, at 41 Cooper Square (on Third Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets)

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.