Visual imagery in the Canadian solidarity movement for Timor-Leste
David Webster Bishop's University, CANADA
In 1974, a young Canadian woman took the “hippy trail” that so many other young people had taken though Southeast Asia. Elaine Brière had studied at the University of British Columbia and gone on to work as a photographer for the Yukon Daily News. In 1974, her travels took her to East Timor, where she took some remarkable black-and-white photographs of local people fishing, carrying water, playing, and otherwise going about their lives. After the Indonesian invasion, no one took that sort of photograph anymore. Pictures from Timor became rare. Gradually, Briere’s images began to be appear in photo exhibits by small East Timor solidarity groups located around the world. They became a visual representation of East Timor. Taking the uses and transmission of Briere’s images as starting point, this paper analyzes the use of visual imagery in the solidarity movement. It then explores two other examples of imaging as activism – a display of Timorese tais weavings and other material culture at the Canadian Textile Museum, and the use of Timorese flags and crosses in street protests in the 1990s.