Announcement of Attempts to Guarantee the Future Existence of Taiwan, 2012, performance in the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, public spaces of the city and corporate headquarters. Courtesy of Galerie Michel Rein


Maria Thereza Alves’s videos and installations speak about the continuity and actuality of colonial relations by addressing questions of representation and the politics of memory, expropriation, and land rights. Her works critique the idea of stable identities and stand as a counter-model to any version of the evolutionary story of progress and to all that is normally taken for granted or assumed as unavoidable or without alternative in the historical process of a colonial modernity. It is her involvement in the struggles of indigenous populations around the world against dispossession and cultural destruction that has made her focus on so-called “local” knowledges and historical counternarratives.

For the Taipei Biennial 2012, Alves has organized two performative works. The first work brings the ongoing struggle of indigenous people against the corporate development of their coastlands into the context of the Biennial opening, asking the Biennial’s curator to wear a T-shirt supporting the campaign against the Miramar Resort on Taitung’s Shanyuan Beach during the official parts of the ceremony. Local activists and environmental groups have been campaigning against the “development” and the privatization of these lands for several years. The construction of this grand new tourist resort, situated in a bay that is a traditional fishing ground for the aboriginal Amis people and that is also home to a coral reef, has been halted by a court ruling that contests the validity of the building permits and environmental impact studies. 

Alves’s second intervention consists of a performance with a gong player, who will regularly perform in select public spaces in the city of Taipei. The gong is a traditional form of public announcement but has long been in decline. The content of the announcements will refer to immediate demands made by Taiwan’s aboriginal peoples in their current struggles, such as the Miramar Resort struggle, the Tao people’s struggle against a nuclear waste dump on Orchid Island, and the Taroko people’s fight against the Asia Cement Corporation.

Maria Thereza Alves, born 1961 in Brazil, lives and works in Berlin