Guido Van Helten’s ‘New Australiana I (wattle)’ – a collaboration referencing a photograph I took in Dili, Timor-Leste in 1999. Part of a continuing exploration of Australian multicultural, refugee and asylum seeker history. Completed for Wonderwalls Festival in Wollongong, Australia.
I have been trying to track down people I had photographed during East Timor’s fight for independence in 1999. The project’s aim is to find the survivors and continue to tell their stories, a task made even more difficult by the fact I had made the decision not to record names at that time, not wanting my notes to fall into the wrong hands and place people at risk. It was a dangerous time for everyone. The other day, two close friends, UNMIT photographers Martine Perret and Dino Soares, graciously managed to track down a family I had photographed in Dili back then. The photograph shows the family having just returned to the burnt out remains of their home. It was tense, as rampaging Militia, alongside Indonesian soldiers, were continuing to torch nearby buildings. I was immediately struck by that look of concern on the father’s face. I took a photograph and moved on. On March 22nd, 2011, it was an absolute pleasure to be formally introduced to Marsal Guterres and his family, wife Tereza Da Silva Almeida Dos Santos, daughter Martina Margarida Guterres, 13 years old, and son, Jacinto Guterres Da Silva, 11.
Photograph by Dino Soares