Maria Madeira

24th November – 20th April 2024

Com­mis­sion­er: Jorge Soares Cristovão
Sec­re­tary of State for Arts and Cul­ture of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Repub­lic of Tim­or-Leste
Artist: Dr Maria Madeira
Cura­tor: Pro­fes­sor Natal­ie King OAM
Orga­niz­er: Min­istry of Youth, Sports, Arts and Cul­ture
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Repub­lic of Tim­or-Leste
Advi­sors: Anna Schwartz AM, Dr Kim McGrath and Simon Fenby

Maria Madeira is the artist to rep­re­sent Tim­or-Leste at the 60th Inter­na­tion­al Venice Bien­nale tak­ing place from April 20 to Novem­ber 24, 2024. Timor-Leste’s inau­gur­al pavil­ion coin­cides with the 25th anniver­sary of the inde­pen­dence of Tim­or-Leste. The Tim­or-Leste Pavil­ion is com­mis­sioned by the Min­istry of Youth, Sports, Arts and Cul­ture, Demo­c­ra­t­ic Repub­lic of Tim­or-Leste and curat­ed by Pro­fes­sor Natal­ie King OAM.

Respond­ing to the Venice Biennale’s over­ar­ch­ing theme Stranieri Ovunque — For­eign­ers Every­where, curat­ed by Adri­ano Pedrosa, Madeira imbues her work with her lived expe­ri­ence of dis­place­ment, hav­ing grown up in a refugee camp in Por­tu­gal with her moth­er. Kiss and Don’t Tell melds ten­der­ness and trau­ma with the inti­ma­cy of a kiss. Madeira adept­ly binds ances­tral influ­ences, tra­di­tion­al crafts with con­tem­po­rary con­cerns for the plight of the voiceless. 

Dur­ing the open­ing days of the 60th Venice Bien­nale, Madeira kiss­es the walls with lip­stick mark­ings while singing tra­di­tion­al songs from her vil­lage in the Indige­nous lan­guage Tetun. In par­tic­u­lar, she will sing a haunt­ing Tim­o­rese song Ina Lou, lit­er­al­ly mean­ing Dear Moth­er Earth.” It is a spir­i­tu­al mourn­ing song known from the youngest gen­er­a­tion to the old­est mem­bers of soci­ety with lyrics that refer to the cycle of birth and the jour­ney of life and death.

An act of resis­tance, sur­vival and resilience, Madeira’s cul­tur­al activism pays homage to the women of Tim­or-Leste and the suf­fer­ing of women glob­al­ly. She offers solace and a mur­mur of hope and healing.


Maria Madeira

Lips to Kiss and Don’t Tell (Ibun Kulit ba Rei no Labele Koalia) — Study III, 2023
Tais (tra­di­tion­al East Tim­o­rese cloth), red earth, glue, seal­er on paper
22cm x 29cm
Pho­to: Juventi­no Madeir