For more detailed information, please change to the German version of this website.

Wilma Lukatsch

Disertation Project

“What do we want the world to know about us?” Colonial Ballast and Artistic Strategies of an Aesthetics of survivance in the Work of Maria Thereza Alves (working title)

Since the nineteen-eighties, Maria Thereza Alves has developed an artistic body of work in which questions and possibilities of contemporary indigenous identities within neo/postcolonial societies have been of central importance. Alves’s work has explored and tested spaces of productive self-representation to point toward repressive, neocolonial mechanisms and politics of perceiving and determining otherness. 

Developing directly out of observation and exploration of (his)stories from her personal life and work, her projects take up the local (historical, social, ecological, etc.) conditions, necessities, and/or needs of each respective context. The dialogical relations that Alves realizes with her surroundings (her environment as the world around her) create the foundation out of which her work’s form and content grow and develop. In my research project, I would like to work out the means and artistic strategies that Alves has used for decades to present the world in its colonial constructedness as a theme of her work and thus introduce (his)stories of individuals who have been oppressed and silenced by colonialism into the field of art as stories of survivance. 

As an indigenous Brazilian artist—although Alves does not strategically (mis)use or instrumentalize “being indigenous” or indigeneity for her works—who grew up in New York, Alves also employs her voice to function as a translator situated at the postcolonial breaking-point of we/you. She offers her position as an internationally situated artist to oppressed communities (we) in order to provoke, through creative collaboration, questions and possibilities in the postcolonial outside; and she creates outwardly directed consciousness (you) for limits of visibility and discourse. One can thus read the sentence “Deconstruct your construct of my construct”—which Alves wrote in large letters on the wall of an earlier exhibition—as a disruption of the relationship between artist and audience. The deconstruction of the other as something that has been constructed by colonialism stands in active and historically originating contemporaneity to the I as beholder. Viewing and comprehending art binds together the two sides of colonialism incessantly and repeatedly in new ways.

Western and non-Western identity politics and identity constructions accordingly play a foundational role in the deconstruction of Alves’s works, without however dissolving these works into Western binaries (nature/art, art/politics, art/life, etc.) or adapting them in formal-aesthetic terms to Western practices of classification. Rather, Alvez’s works enable and accompany the creation of spaces of thought and action that evade overly obvious forms of ascription. In this way, her projects are unpredictable and have an indeterminate end, which is why I understand them as exemplary visions of a decolonial alternative. In this regard, the analysis of Alves’s artistic strategies can critically reflect on, enrich, and ideally sharpen the focus of current discussions (above all in the Americas) about decolonial aesthetics.

Please note that these listings appear in the language they were originally published.


Wilma Lukatsch studied art history, religious studies, and sociology at the Freie Universität Berlin and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. From 2005–2015, she worked as a gallerist, publisher, and author. In 2008, Barbara Wien and Wilma Lukatsch together founded the tomas schmit archiv, Berlin, which she continued to co-advise and guide until 2015 ( In 2016–17, Lukatsch organized the artistic archive of Maria Thereza Alves and, in the course of this work, developed an archive website ( In addition, Lukatsch has conducted interviews with artists since 2004, which she considers to be independent text-forms that she would like to further develop. She also works as a freelance translator and as a book and web designer. 


Please note that these listings appear in the language they were originally published.

Dreizehn Montagsgespräche, mit Tomas Schmit, hg. von Barbara Wien und Wilma Lukatsch. Galerie & Kunstbuchhandlung Barbara Wien: Köln/Berlin, 2008.

HOW TO WRITE – Künstler, die schreiben. Publikationsreihe mit Künstlertexten, hg. von Barbara Wien und Wilma Lukatsch, Berlin 2013/14. 

Durham, Jimmy, Poems That Do Not Go Together, hg. von Barbara Wien und Wilma Lukatsch, Galerie & Kunstbuchhandlung Barbara Wien: Berlin/London, 2012.  

Schmit, Tomas, katalog IV. (Werkverzeichnis 1997–2006), hg. von Barbara Wien und Wilma Lukatsch, Galerie & Kunstbuchhandlung Barbara Wien: Köln, 2007.


„Hiroshi McDonald Mori: KIDOAIRAKU ? The Notion of Home Is More Than a Notion and Less Than Home (And Our Tongues Are Tools to Feel Close to Both)“, in: Das Haus #1, hg. von Aachener Siedlungs- und Wohnungsbaugesellschaft mgH, Köln 2017, S. 110–133.

Rao, Shubigi, A so far true conversation with Shubigi Rao about her 10-years spanning project Pulp (2013–2023) by Wilma Lukatsch, Berlin: Katalog Künstlerhaus Bethanien, 2017.

„nicht immer alles dazu sagen! (no need to always give all explanations!)“, in: Tomas Schmit Katalog, Galerie Michael Werner: Köln, 2007.

„Über das Verhältnis von Sockel und Publikum bei Tomas Schmit oder ‚die dinge, die aus der kunst verschwinden müßten, sind wohl gerade die, die die kunst ausmachen.’“ in: Grenzen überwindend, Festschrift für Prof. Adam Labuda, Lukas Verlag: Berlin, 2006.