I was fresh out of school when I first traveled to Timor-Leste in 2005. My memories from that trip are still incredibly clear starting with the small hut at the airport where one had to apply for a visa. I also vividly recall how Dili seemed to have more destroyed buildings than functioning ones, as we moved through the capital I recall being astounded at the countless numbers of decaying UN vehicles, most of which were destroyed during the crisis in 1999.
It is without a doubt that aspects of Timor society has developed since 1999 and even 2005, but to what extent considering the time and money invested by the development community and Timorese government. It was last year whilst back in Timor I attempted to provide a reponse to the notions of ‘what is development’ and ‘how do we define progress’ in my photo essay Timor in progress is viewable on my website here.
As I prepare to fly back out to Timor-Leste this evening I have been digging through my archive and pulling out some interesting pictures I made on my second trip to Timor-Leste in 2009. During those three months in Timor I covered the 10 year anniversary since the historic referendum for independence. While in Timor I also spent a decent amount of time working on a few different projects including the Futu Manu (cock fights) which can be seen here on my website. In 2010 my series Futu Manu was included in the group exhibition Growing Pains at Fotofreo a biannual photo festival held in Fremantle, Australia. A review of the exhibition is available on Foto8 here.
It was also in 2009 that I began learning first hand about the labour intensiveness of coffee production. Returning to the Emera district, one of the largest coffee producers in Timor-Leste, I was able to document the many hands that touch each coffee bean en route to a coffee cup in Australia, Europe or the United States. I hope to learn more about coffee production in the coming weeks.