Maria Madeira | 60TH Inter­na­tion­al Venice Biennale

Kiss and Don’t Tell

20 April – 24 Novem­ber 2024
Tim­or-Leste Pavil­ion at 60th Inter­na­tion­al Venice Biennale

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 rep­re­sents 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.


Madeira is one of Timor-Leste’s most sig­nif­i­cant con­tem­po­rary visu­al artists work­ing inter­na­tion­al­ly, yet her prac­tice is deeply embed­ded in local tra­di­tions, con­cerns and his­to­ries. For the Venice Bien­nale, Madeira presents Kiss and Don’t Tell, a new site-spe­cif­ic instal­la­tion util­is­ing local mate­ri­als such as tais (tra­di­tion­al tex­tile), betel­nut, earth and pig­ments. Her per­for­ma­tive instal­la­tion draws on the col­lec­tive mem­o­ries of her foremothers. 


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 was born in the vil­lage of Gleno in the Ermera region of Tim­or-Leste. The Por­tugese Air Force evac­u­at­ed her from Tim­or in 1976 dur­ing the Indone­sian inva­sion. She spent most of the fol­low­ing eight years in a refugee camp run by the Red Cross on the out­skirts of Lis­bon in Por­tu­gal and migrat­ed with her fam­i­ly to Aus­tralia in August 1983.


Over the years, she obtained sev­er­al aca­d­e­m­ic qual­i­fi­ca­tions. She grad­u­at­ed with a B.A. Fine Arts (Visu­al Arts) Degree from Curtin Uni­ver­si­ty, Perth in 1991. Two years lat­er she received a Grad­u­ate Diplo­ma of Edu­ca­tion (Major in art) from the same uni­ver­si­ty. In 1996, she obtained her sec­ond degree, a B.A. in Polit­i­cal Sci­ence from Mur­doch Uni­ver­si­ty. In 2019, she com­plet­ed a Doc­tor of Phi­los­o­phy in Art from Curtin Uni­ver­si­ty, Australia. 


Between 1996 and 2000, she worked in West­ern Aus­tralia as a high school art teacher, visu­al artist and cul­tur­al advi­sor for sev­er­al arts and cul­tur­al organ­i­sa­tions. Between 2000 – 2004, she returned to Tim­or-Leste to con­tribute to the recov­ery, rebuild­ing and rede­vel­op­ment of Tim­or-Leste, the newest nation in Asia.


Select­ed solo exhi­bi­tions include Flow­ery Talk, Fun­dação Ori­ente, Dili, Tim­or-Leste, 2022 Mana Maria, Chi­ang Mai Uni­ver­si­ty, Thai­land 2022; A Place in the Sun, Fun­dação Ori­ente, Dili, Tim­or-Leste, 2022; Tim­or-Leste: An Artis­tic Per­spec­tive, Uni­ver­si­ty of Col­orado, 2019; Ina Lou (Dear Moth­er Earth), Galeri Cip­ta II, Jakar­ta, 2014; Famil­iar Steps, Fes­ti­val da Luso­fo­nia, Macau, 2011 and Silent Voic­es, Can­nery Arts Cen­tre, Esper­ance, West­ern Aus­tralia, 2007


Select­ed group exhi­bi­tions include Bien­nale Jog­ja XVI Equa­tor #6, Yogyakar­ta Nation­al Muse­um, Indone­sia, 2021; ART­FEM: Women artists 2nd Inter­na­tion­al Bien­ni­al of Macau, Natu­ra Alber­gue SCM, Macau, 2020; Elas­tic (Bor­racha) Mobile Res­i­den­cy, Chan Con­tem­po­rary Art Space, North­ern Cen­tre for Con­tem­po­rary Art and Cross Art Projects, Dar­win Aus­tralia, 2014; Arte Luso­fona Con­tem­po­ranea, Gale­ria Mar­ta Tra­ba, São Paulo, Brazil, 2011 and Pic­tur­ing the Sea, Lawrence Wil­son Art Gallery, Uni­ver­si­ty of West­ern Aus­tralia, 2006


Natal­ie King is an Aus­tralian cura­tor, writer, edi­tor and Pro­fes­sor of Visu­al Arts, Vic­to­ri­an Col­lege of the Arts at the Uni­ver­si­ty if Mel­bourne. Recent projects include Cura­tor of Yuki Kihara: Par­adise Camp, Aotearoa New Zealand, 59th Venice Bien­nale 2022 and Pow­er­house Muse­um, Syd­ney 2023. In 2017, King was Cura­tor and Edi­tor of Tracey Mof­fatt: My Hori­zon, Aus­tralian Pavil­ion, the 57th Venice Bien­nale. She has curat­ed exhi­bi­tions for the Tokyo Pho­tog­ra­phy Muse­um; Sin­ga­pore Art Muse­um; the Nation­al Muse­um of Art, Osa­ka; Nation­al Gallery of Indone­sia, Jakar­ta; the Muse­um of Con­tem­po­rary Art, Syd­ney, among oth­ers. She is Pres­i­dent of AICA-Aus­tralia (Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Art Crit­ics, Paris. In 2020, she was award­ed the Medal of the Order of Aus­tralia (OAM) for ser­vice to the con­tem­po­rary visu­al arts”.

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