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Maria Thereza Alves is amplifying the Indigenous communities fighting to protect Brazil’s forests.

The Campaign

To See The Forest Standing is an ongoing research-based artwork and campaign by Maria Thereza Alves to bring awareness to the protection, care and preservation of the forest by the AMAAIAC, the Association of the Movement of Indigenous Agroforestry Agents of the State of Acre, Brazil, as well as the threats to this stewardship posed by the aggressive extractive activities of agrobusiness and government alike.

“The forest agents are not recognized by the Brazilian government and receive no regular income for their labor and yet they are the front line for ensuring the possibility that Brazil and the larger world might have a future.”Maria Thereza Alves

The Project

In July and August of 2017, Alves interviewed 34 agroforestry agents who are members of AMAAIAC in Acre, Brazil. AMAAIAC’s mandate is to preserve forested areas on indigenous lands and provide training for more efficient agro-forestry methods, particularly for areas which have been heavily deforested and destroyed by settlers.

The forest agents are elected by their community and are responsible through community consensus for managing reforestation, sustainable farming, overseeing animal life, the protection of water sources, environmental education program, promoting biodiversity of fauna and flora and caring for archaeological sites.

Some of the reservations, particularly those where major highways were built to deliberately divide up reservations lands, have continuous problems and there AMAAIAC agents have the added task of protecting the land from the destruction of gold miners, cattle ranchers, hunters, loggers, monocultural plantations and settlers. The forest agents are not recognized by the Brazilian government and receive no regular income for their labor and yet they are the front line for ensuring the possibility that Brazil and the larger world might have a future. As Poá Katukina, the president of AMAAIAC says, “We have dedicated ourselves to seeing that the forest stands.”

The campaign raises awareness about and lobby against the violent repression against indigenous peoples; who are at the frontline of protection of the forest. The campaign seeks to raise awareness of the work that the AMAAIAC does, generate funds and educate people to the interplanetary relationship we have to other governmental policies that affect our collective planet.

For more reflections on interspecies relationships and Indigenous stewardship, listen to Back to Earth, Episode 7: Standing with the Forests.

Buy Maria Thereza Alves’s book, Recipes for Survival here.


“We would like to propose that as a legacy to the air that the world needs, donations be made to guarantee the continuation of the work of AMAAIAC – that is of indigenous agro-forestry agents who make our air. Especially as the situation in Brazil is deteriorating rapidly concerning the viability of keeping the Forest Standing.” – Maria Thereza Alves




Bank: Brazil

Name on account: Francisca Oliveira de Lima

Beneficiary address: Rua Oriente 263, Bairro Doca Furtado, Rio Branco, 69918-140 Acre, Brazil

Account number: 10290-3

Bank address: Rua Sao Bento 465, Floor 5, 01011 Sao Paulo, Brazil


IBAN: BR8600000000057790000053880C1

About Maria Thereza Alves

Maria Thereza Alves, (Brazil, 1961) has participated in the Toronto Biennale, Manifesta 12 and 7, the 32nd and 29th São Paulo Biennale, the Sharjah Biennale and in dOCUMENTA (13). She has had a solo exhibit at MUAC in Mexico City and a survey exhibit at CAAC in Seville. Alves will be participating in the upcoming Sydney Biennale. Alves is the recipient of the Vera List Prize for Art and Politics 2016-2018.

In 1978, as a member of the International Indian Treaty Council, Alves made an official presentation of human rights abuses of the indigenous population of Brazil at the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva. Alves was one of the founding members of the Green Party of Sao Paulo in 1987. Her book, Recipes for Survival has recently been published by University of Texas Press.

Back to Earth

Back to Earth invites over sixty leading artists, architects, poets, filmmakers, scientists, thinkers and designers to devise artist-led campaigns and initiatives in response to the environmental crisis.

This is a multi-year project that is unfolding across the Serpentine’s programmes onsite, offsite and online throughout 2020 and beyond, with a major group exhibition in 2021. Throughout Back to Earth, our website will become an ever-growing, living archive of artist campaigns – we encourage you to revisit often to discover new perspectives, resources and calls to action.

We invite you to join us on this mission to reimagine new ways of being on and with Earth in the face of a climate crisis which threatens our existence.


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