RICARDO GRITTO, The Frozen Heart, 2017, mixed-media on canvas, 150 × 220 cm. Courtesy the artist. 

East Timor

East Timor
Also available in:  Chinese

The 2017 presidential election in the Asia Pacific’s youngest nation Timor-Leste, or East Timor, was won by former freedom fighter Francisco Guterres, who aims to reduce poverty and unemployment in the 15-year-old nation.

In the capital Dili, the Timorese Resistance Archive and Museum hosted “Konsolidarte” (5/17–6/5), the country’s first exhibition of conceptual art featuring mixed-media works by local artists Tony Amaral and Zito Soares “Xistu” Da Silva alongside Portugal’s Ricardo Gritto. The show then continued at the Asia Foundation in Dili (6/9–8/30).

The heart of East Timor’s art scene is nonprofit art school and cultural center Arte Moris, founded in 2003 by Swiss artist couple Gabriela and Luca Gansser. It offers free art education to Timorese youth, in addition to hosting lectures and staging exhibitions. In February, the center celebrated its 14th anniversary. Arte Moris’s offshoot, the Afalyca Community Arts Centre (ACAC), in the country’s second-largest city Baucau, operates on a similar model.

In Australia, “The Sculptures of Atauro Island” (3/16–7/15), at the Charles Darwin University Art Gallery in Darwin, surveyed figurative wood carvings from the small island north of Dili. A symposium addressing the country’s cultural heritage, “Timor-Leste: Then and Now,” organized by the Student Conservators for Timor-Leste, was accompanied by an exhibition (10/27–11/9) held at the Good Room in Melbourne. The show included prints by artists from the ACAC, traditional woven cloth called tais made by East Timorese women in Australia, and photos documenting the East Timorese refugee experience.

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