Maria Thereza Alves bases her work on the idea that the cultivated soil in both industrialized and in developing countries is covered to a large extent by plant life that has migrated or been introduced from the outside. This development will continue as it is estimated that over a billion people will migrate from rural to urban areas in the next 20 years. In her work, Alves is less interested in the consequences of such a shift for the ecosystem; she focuses instead on the "local" stock of plants and seeds - frequently found in the vicinity of large construction sites - which she then plants in greenhouses. Her experiments show that the seeds can survive as "sleepers" for decades after having been thrown away by travelers or traders. Using this data, she reconstructs the historical developments and migratory processes which condition the occurrence of specific exotic plant seeds in local sites.
Maria Thereza Alves, born in 1961 in Brazil, lives today in Roma and Berlin. In 1986, she co-founded Brazil's Green Party in São Paulo. Amongst others, her work has been exhibited at the Liverpool Biennial; NGBK, Berlin; Villa Medici, Rome; Steirischer Herbst, Graz; Venice Biennial; New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; Musée Portuaire, Dunkerque; CEAAC, Strasbourg; Spacex, Exeter; Gallery 101, Montréal; BüroFriedrich, Berlin; The House of World Cultures, Berlin; Galerija Miroslav Kraljevi, Zagreb; Porin Taidemuseo; Zerynthia, Italy; Museum in Progress, Vienna; Werkleitz Biennial, Halle/ Saale; Insite, Tijuana/San Diego; Boxx, Brussels; Buersschouwburg, Brussels; Central Space Gallery, London; Temistocles 44, Mexico City; Casa del Lago, Mexico City; La Estación Gallery, Cuernavaca; Biennial Havana; Kenkeleba House, New York.