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Maria Thereza Alves in conversation with Andrea Viliani

Starting from Recipes for Survival

nctm e l’arte continues its series of talks on how artists can be involved in the public debate on the fundamentals of law and justice.

The fourth talk of the cycle will see artist Maria Thereza Alves in conversation with Andrea Viliani – Artistic Director of the Donnaregina Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Madre Museum of Naples.
The talk will focus on the project Recipes for Survival, begun in 1983 and now turned into a homonymous book, with a foreword by anthropologist Michael Taussig, published by University of Texas Press in 2018.
The project will be contextualised in the overall artist’s production.

Brazilian-born and now living between Berlin and Naples, Maria Thereza Alves has been active since the 80s. Her projects are often focused on the local history of the place where she works or that she decides to investigate.
In such cases, by completely immersing herself into a specific context and as a relational and collaborative exercise, Alves fosters the spirit of participation of the people living in and visiting a place, making them active agents in the realisation of her artwork. From such shared commitment come texts, videos, drawings, photographs, complex and multi-faceted installations. What is of primary importance to the artist is that her projects give rise to a forum of exchange among the public.

An example of such working method is the project Recipes for Survival.
In this case Alves returned to her native country, in a suburban area of southern Brazil.
Her aim is to give voice to individuals whose existence and needs are too often neglected. The artist engages in a series of dialogues and interviews, on the premise that in this way her interlocutors will be able to draw the world’s attention to facts and situations they want to make known.
In the book, photographs, stories and some recipes show the everyday life of such community. The result is a portrait of a place and a population to which history does not yet seem to have recognised a role.


Maria Thereza Alves was born in Brazil in 1961.
She participated in Manifesta 12 and 7, the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo, the Sharjah Biennial, dOCUMENTA (13) and the Toronto Biennial of Art.
Alves took part in the exhibition Flesh in the Knife at the PAC in Milan. She had a solo exhibition hosted at the MUAC in Mexico City and another exhibition at the CAAC in Seville.
Alves will participate in the next Biennale of Sydney. Furthermore, she received the 2016-2018 Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics.

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