I am currently working on a feature documentary with East Timorese actor / poet / ex-resistance fighter Osme Gonsalves. Get in touch if you'd like to learn more about it.
In August 2014, we began an involvement with East Timor's first ever public art festival named Arte Publiku. The festival was a combination of music, art, dance, performance and all things creative, encouraging nation building and creative exchange through a week of workshops and live performances. I participated by filming the event, and creating a collaborated projection piece by filming East Timorese poetry. Below are three poems by East Timorese actor Osme Gonsalves.
A short video made in collaboration with a handful of Timorese artists, lead by the brilliant Etson Caminha. The idea was to film a handful of artists across different mediums responding to the theme of national identity to coincide with the national day of celebration. But there was also an element of protest to the concept, with local artists unhappy about the amount of resources being invested in the celebration of the first Portuguese landing in Timor, a date which saw the start of a long line of colonialism in this tiny nation.
Midway through 2014, the Animatism project received funding to bring out three of East Timorese's finest artists to make a mural and projection installation for the Gertrude Projection festival. Tony, Alfe and Etson are all renowned painters in East Timor, although projected art installations are yet to appear back home. So to capitalise on their artistic skills we set up a studio at the Fitzroy community art centre and had them freely pain the reverse of the glass. The idea was aimed at allow audiences to see their process, but also for that process to become a performance within itself. Luckily for us, the project won the 2014 Walker Abercrombie Judge's Award. Collaborating artists: Etson Caminha, Alfe Perreira and Tony Amaral, Chris Parkinson, Michael Fikaris and Michael Meneghetti.
After the Myths and Murals project was nearing completion, I returned to East Timor with Chris Parkinson in late 2013 to record a greatly expanded project covering dance, music, performance and visual art with workshops leading to a large scale exhibition at the Arte Moris facility. The project also continued the commitment to cross cultural exchange with Australia - this time we were joined by a Melbourne street artist, a break dance instructor, and a musician with a passion for sampling local sounds and beats. The project now takes the name Animatism (a cross between Animism and Animate) and there will be more to come including - we hope - a 30 minute documentary to be aired on network TV.
Myths and Murals was my first joint project with Chris Parkinson, and my first chance to travel with Chris to Dili and the surrounds to document local street art. The idea of the project was to paint one large mural in each province of East Timor, all lead by the free art school Arte Moris, with the theme of each mural drawing on local traditions and teased out trough public workshops.
2010 marked my first trip to East Timor, and I really did have no idea what to expect. I was there on a job for the Oak Tree foundation, halfway through a year long backpacking adventure in SE Asia. I still remember arriving at the departure gates in Singapore and marvelling at the sea of foreign dignitaries boarding the plane - there were more UN lanyards and leather laptop cases than there were local Timorese. What was this place? The overwhelming UN presence became a traveller’s first impression of this new nation, but from the moment I stepping off the plane it was the street art that became a lasting impression. The old decaying walls were splashed with colour at every intersection, I was instantly hooked. Upon my return I cut this video together through which I met the honourable Chris Parkinson, with whom I've travelled to this beautiful country many times since.
Massive thanks to Chris Parkinson for introducing me to all his incredible East Timor projects and connections. And of course - to my Timorese friends in Dili: Etson, Alfie, Tony, Iliwatu, Mariano, Tutu, Thomas and everyone at Arte Moris, a huge thanks.
Find out more at www.animatismart.com