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Sampari Art Exhibition, ACU Art Gallery

Press Release – Federal Republic of West Papua

WELSH ARTIST BRONWEN BENDERs striking copper-wire portrait of West Papuan diplomat Jacob Rumbiak, who escaped from Indonesias notorious penal system in 1999, leads a spectacular response by Australian artists for a bounty of image and knowledge …Welsh artist’s spectacular copper-wire portrait of former West Papuan political prisoner

Sampari Art Exhibition, ACU Art Gallery, Brunswick St, Fitzroy (4-13 December 2015)

WELSH ARTIST BRONWEN BENDER’s striking copper-wire portrait of West Papuan diplomat Jacob Rumbiak, who escaped from Indonesia’s notorious penal system in 1999, leads a spectacular response by Australian artists for ‘a bounty of image and knowledge about West Papua and the people’s ambition to be free’.

Bender illuminates her mass of coiled and twisted metal with a light source such that her portrait includes its own shadow, a non-static dimension that might be softer, sharper, sadder, happier, bigger or smaller than its wire progenitor.

Bender believes her art is both a literal and metaphorical revelation of a freedom fighter locked up in the murky shadows of the repressive Indonesian state. Jacob Rumbiak believes the work is ‘magical’ in its capacity to reflect the dark spaces he occupied for so long, and which so many of his friends and political colleagues still do. There are still fifty-one West Papuan political prisoners in ‘democratic’ Indonesia.

Dominic Brown’s undercover British documentary Forgotten bird of paradise inspired Bronwen to address the issue of Indonesian-occupied West Papua. “I was really moved. I’d been here for two years, and couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard anything about West Papua, even though it is so close to Australia. I’m working to raise awareness in the only way I know, which is through my art”.

As the Sampari Art Exhibition opens in Melbourne, forty-one children, in one district in the West Papua highlands, have died in the past two weeks of a ‘mysterious’ illness. A government medical team, sent to test for malaria, has already left, unwilling, typically, to report on anything but the most innocuous possibilities. Jacob Rumbiak claims this is a regular occurrence after the first rains of the season, and is demanding a forensic investigation by a non-Indonesian authority.

“These poisonings could be from chemicals in the smoke haze, or chemicals introduced into the water, we don’t know. The government’s only claim is that the children didn’t die of malaria, which is rare in the highlands anyway.”

SAMPARI ART EXHIBITION FOR WEST PAPUA (5 – 13 December 2015)

ACU Art Gallery, 26 Brunswick St, Fitzroy (Mon to Fri 11am–7pm; Sat-Sun 10am – 5pm)

ENDS

Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
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