After a tough hike up Mt Ramalau last weekend, I was lucky enough to catch most of the Arte Publiku Festival happening here in Dili over the long weekend.
It was, to say the least, a very impressive event. The beachfront was filled with sculptures and art all weekend long, with excellent theatre performances during the day.
The evenings saw the place jam-packed with people coming to see a wide variety of bands and musicians from across the globe. Local musicians shared the main stage with international guests, and genres ranged from Latino beats and experimental tunes, to folk music and metal. Those of us who were able to tear ourselves away from the main stage were also treated to some very awesome break dancing!
The performances were exceptional, as was the atmosphere. Thanks to a heavy presence of security and the successful targeting of families by the organisers, the seaside maintained a family friendly, safe atmosphere throughout the festival at any time of day or night. It was a wonderful example of how art and music can bring people from all walks of life together.
One of the highlights for me was checking out the galleries that were displaying local Timorese art. I was able to lap it all up while actually meeting a lot of the young artists. It seemed that many of the young people whose art was on display were attending the festival to act as curators in the galleries. It added a lot of value to the experience.
The only question that came to my mind throughout the weekend was whether much of the art being displayed was by young women. The musical talent (including the breakdancing) was filled with men and women, however all the artist I met in the galleries were male. It got me wondering whether the lack of women was because they were not able to give as much time to the festival as their male counterparts, because of the travel involved or family commitments? Or perhaps there are difficulties recruiting women as art students? I believe that Arte Moris, who organised the entire festival, have programs for students of a variety of ages, from various of locations, so I am sure they have felt the lack of female input also… I would love to hear from the organisers at some point about this topic because, as it has been well documented across the world’s greatest galleries, women’s art is often underrepresented in public and prestigious spaces. It would be a shame for the trend to continue at such a successful and new event.
All that aside, the festival was amazing, and I have not stopped talking about it to people back home in Australia. Congratulations to Arte Moris, the organisation that put the festival together. I am truly excited to see such a big project get off the ground with so much enthusiasm from everyone involved. This is bound to be a highlight on Dili’s social and cultural calendar and I look forward to the next Arte Publiku Festival.