The Culture section of Suai Media Space is not ‘curated’ with the idea to provide an opportunity to explore the meaning of ‘friendship’ or to sell art or create cultural tourism. The writer is not a scholar of Timorese culture. The inclusion of particular works and forms has come about through friendships rather than curatorial research and scholarship. Cultural exchange is being facilitated by the documentary-maker to facilitate access to those outside East Timor, (especially for the people of Port Phillip, who are attempting a community to community friendship with the people of Cova Lima, Suai), to cultural and artistic expressions of various kinds to enhance knowledge and understanding in the friendship.
It is intended to show the interests, pre-occupations and concerns of people in the friendship, beyond political agendas and business.
The project to show this work comes from faith in the idea that art forms and artists have the ability to assist cross-border conversations in unique and eloquent ways. Cultural knowledge of East Timor is limited in Australia; Australian mass media representations of Timor, primarily as a site of conflict, violence, poverty, incapacity and instability mean positive images of the people and their culture have been rare in this country. Because deep knowledge of our regional neighbours is limited, it would be easy for many, who have been more exposed to Indonesian culture and the rhetoric of political suppression during the Indonesian occupation, to assume that the culture of Timor is the same as the culture of Indonesia, which it is not. There are connections that reflect migration patterns of people, geographical proximity, colonialism, religion and the impact of modernism, and both cultures have animist roots, but they are in essence very different from say Javanese and Balinese culture. Wikipedia: Culture of Asia Culture of East Timor
Port Phillip, especially St Kilda, is well known for it’s strength and interest in the arts. According to some media workshop students in 2008 Cova Lima Suai was really a town of arts and known as Suai Cidade Arte. In their story the students bemoan the fact that during the 1999 violence everything was looted and destroyed but there are many young people living there who are artistically talented and frequently unemployed.
It is hoped that artists, musicians and writers of all kinds in Port Phillip and elsewhere will take the opportunity to indulge in some cultural exchange through the Social Network and form independent friendships that will help the young people of Suai build positive futures.
It is possible to become an ‘author’ on Suai Media Space and generate pages that help uncover the people and culture of Port Phillip for the people of Suai. (It is not within the capacity of the writer to do all this alone: see ‘contact us.’). The simplest way to do it is through the Social Network to begin with otherwise contact the writer. All young people over ten speak Indonesian. There are increasing numbers of Timorese youth in Suai who are learning English, and Tetun lessons are available in Melbourne. In addition there is a large Timorese community in Melbourne. The language difference can be overcome when the motivation requires it as friends and relatives will translate for each other.
The most recent images of paintings, drawings and carvings have been provided by the artists and/or Gabriela and Luca Gansser of Arte Moris the free art school in Dili where some of the most talented youth from Suai have been living and studying. Natalino dos Reis Pires is a senior artist there. The Massacre Art, the public art in the form of graffiti, stencils and painted works on architectural spaces, as well as music and other works have been collected by the writer over many years. All the art presented here is by artists from Cova Lima Suai. The photographs have been taken and the videos made in workshops or put up on to Suai Media Space Social Network.