Tour of Duty is a series of pictures from East Timor that say very little about that country but a great deal about Australia. Given our recent collusion in East Timor's occupation, Australia's leadership role in the InterFET mission should have been a key moment of national redemption. Instead, we were presented with a huge PR exercise with the government, army, UN and media all featured in starring roles. Rather than quietly focussing on correcting a situation we had contributed to, Australia seemed more interested in treating the Timorese as extras in a jingoistic movie of the week, from concerts they were not allowed to attend, to the distribution of Christmas teddy bears they had no use for. No one thought to ask the Timorese how they could best be helped - it was Australia to the rescue with Kylie Minogue and stuffed toys.
Matthew Sleeth is represented by M.33 Photoagency and sponsored by Bond Imaging.
Centre for Contemporary Photography
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Seven nights after dark