Exploring ecology, indigenous land rights and the community museum as a site of resistance, Brazilian artist Maria Thereza Alves’s 2012 project The Return of a Lake was a collaboration with the Community Museum of the Xico Valley, Mexico. Here she is joined by the director of the Museum, Don Genaro Amaro Altamirano for a discussion reflecting on the significance of the project and its exhibition.
Presented as a book, an intervention in the landscape, and an installation, the exhibition of this project at Documenta 13 (2012) drew directly on the display methods of the community museum itself, using hand-made models of the landscape annotated with a chronology of shifts in land ownership and use.
As part of our Exhibition Histories series, Alves addresses this project in the context of community museums in Mexico, and the alternative, community-led museologies that they enable.
In association with Afterall.
This event has benefited from additional funding awarded by the British Council.
Alves has worked and exhibited internationally since the 1980s, creating a body of work investigating the histories and circumstances of particular localities to give witness to silenced histories. Her projects are researched-based and develop out of her interactions with the physical and social environments of the places she lives, or visits for exhibitions and residencies.
These projects begin in response to local needs and proceed through a process of dialogue that is often facilitated between material and environmental realities and social circumstances. While aware of Western binaries between nature and culture, art and politics, or art and daily life, she deliberately refuses to acknowledge them in her practice. She chooses instead to create spaces of agency and visibility for oppressed cultures through relational practices of collaboration that require constant movement across all of these boundaries.