Ocula MagazineContentsView All
Featured ContentView All
Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible Ocula Report Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible 17 Apr 2019 : Federica Bueti for Ocula

I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...

Read More
Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui Ocula Conversation Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui

The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...

Read More
The National 2019: New Australian Art Ocula Report The National 2019: New Australian Art 13 Apr 2019 : Elyse Goldfinch for Ocula

The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...

Read More

Luke Willis Thompson

b. 1988, New Zealand

Born in 1988 in Auckland, New Zealand, Fijian-New Zealand artist Luke Willis Thomspon lives and works in London. Across film, performance and installation, Thompson's artworks are concerned with social injustice, often in the form of the mistreatment of minority communities and historical trauma.

Though relatively young, Thompson's deep concern with intimate histories is evident from his early work. For inthisholeonthisislandwhereiam (2012/2014), Thompson invited viewers to travel by taxi to explore the suburban New Zealand house where he lived with his mother. With both participatory and performance elements, the work won the Walters Prize in 2014 and pre-empted his 2015 New Museum Triennial commission, for which Thompson worked with a cast of performers who led visitors to New York City sites charged with histories of racial violence.

Two years later, in early 2016, Thompson presented his installation Sucu Mate/Born Dead (2016) at Hopkinson Mossman in Auckland. For the work, Thompson applied for and was granted custodial rights to a graveyard of a colonial sugar plantation in Fiji, and was permitted to temporarily remove the headstones for circulation as art objects. Sucu Mate/Born Dead comprised of nine of the anonymous monuments; marking the graves of deceased workers and managers, the blankness of the headstones raises issues of cheap, exploitative labour and racial discrimination, while the title of the mobile cemetery refers to the short, difficult and damned fate that awaited the workers from birth. The installation was later shown at the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo in the same year.

In recent years, Thompson has become well known for his portraits that present those affected by racialised policing and employ the language and technology of Andy Warhol's 'Screen Tests'. For example, the silent 16mm black and white film Cemetery of Uniforms and Liveries (2016) shows consecutive images of two young Black men wearing white dress shirts against a plain wall. Depicted with near-unmoving frontal gazes, the men are the descendants of women who died from police brutality in London: one is the son of an undocumented Jamaican mature student who was bound and gagged by police during a raid for her deportation and died days later, while the other is the grandson of Dorothy 'Cherry' Groce, whose shooting by police led to the 1985 Brixton riot. None of the officers who were involved in the women's deaths were convicted, reinforcing the sentiment that their lives were less valuable due to their race.

Similarly, Thompson's black and white film autoportrait is a silent portrayal of Diamond Reynolds, who was in a car with her partner Philando Castile when he was shot five times by a police officer near St Paul, Minnesota, during a routine traffic stop in 2016. Reynolds live-streamed the shooting's aftermath; this alarming footage came to be viewed several million times and has since been referenced widely by Black Lives Matter activists as evidence of fatal racism. Made during Thompson's time at the Chisenhale Gallery Create Residency, autoportrait acts as an inmate, grief-laden 'sister-image' to Reynold's broadcast, wordlessly commenting on the devastating impact of excessive police violence against Black bodies in America (the officer who shot Castile was acquitted of the crime). The work won the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018 and in the same year was shortlisted for the Turner Prize.

Examining another unjust and violent death, Thompson's installation Untitled (2012), exhibited at the 5th Auckland Triennial in 2013, consisted of the three garage doors previously owned by a Auckland businessman who stabbed a 15-year-old to death for tagging the doors.

Thompson earned a BFA (2009) and MFA (2010) from Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, and studied at the Städelschule, Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Frankfurt am Main, from 2013 to 2014. Recent solo exhibitions include: Luke Willis Thompson, Adam Art Gallery Te Pātaka Toi, Victoria University of Wellington (2018); autoportrait, Hopkinson Mossman, Auckland (2017); Luke Willis Thompson, Chisenhale Gallery, London (2017); Cemetery of Uniforms and Liveries, Galerie Nagel Draxler, Berlin (2016); Misadventure, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2016); and Sucu Mate/Born Dead, Hopkinson Mossman, Auckland (2016).

Elliat Albrecht | Ocula | 2018
Read More

In Ocula Magazine

Aaron Seeto Ocula Conversation Aaron Seeto Curatorial Manager of Asian and Pacific Art, QAGOMA

This month the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) in Brisbane, Australia, plays host to the 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT8). Renowned as a platform for surveying the vast geographic expanse of Asian and Pacific contemporary art, the triennial continues to uphold a long-term commitment to the region....

Read More
Luke Willis Thompson Ocula Conversation Luke Willis Thompson Artist, New Zealand

Luke Willis Thompson is the winner of this year’s Walters Prize—the prestigious biannual award given to an outstanding work of contemporary New Zealand art. Thompson’s winning piece takes the form of a journey beginning in the exhibition spaces at the Auckland Art Gallery. It is an unusual and remarkable work that was described by...

Read More
Anna-Marie White Ocula Conversation Anna-Marie White Curator and Jury Member, Walters Prize, New Zealand

Anna-Marie White is Curator at The Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi o Whakatū in Nelson, New Zealand and most recently a member of the jury that selected this year’s Walters Prize nominees: Simon Denny, Maddie Leach, Luke Willis Thompson and Kalisolaite ‘Uhila. Named in honour of the New Zealand modernist painter Gordon Walters and hosted...

Read More

In Related Press

View All (13)
The 2018 Turner Prize Focuses on Video Art in Political Times Related Press The 2018 Turner Prize Focuses on Video Art in Political Times Hyperallergic : 3 December 2018

The Turner Prize is famously known as the art world's most provocative prize. From Damien Hirst's formaldehyde cows, Tracey Emin's tampon-strewn bed, and Martin Creed's flickering lights, the nominees over the prize's 34-year existence have never failed to elicit fiery newspaper headlines. And this year's contenders have proved no less...

Read More
Turner prize 2018 review – no painting or sculpture, but the best lineup for years Related Press Turner prize 2018 review – no painting or sculpture, but the best lineup for years The Guardian : 24 September 2018

It took me more than half a day to view this year's Turner prize show – almost everything deserves a second look. One of the best and most demanding in the exhibition's history, I also see trouble ahead. All the artists use film and digital imagery. No painting, no sculpture. The exhibition begins with an open, light anteroom with sofas and four...

Read More
Luke Willis Thompson wins Deutsche Börse photography prize Related Press Luke Willis Thompson wins Deutsche Börse photography prize The Guardian : 17 May 2018

The 2018 Deutsche Börse photography prize has been awarded to the New Zealander Luke Willis Thompson for his film installation Autoportrait.Its subject is Diamond Reynolds, a young black American woman who, in July 2016, broadcast live via Facebook the moments after her partner, Philando Castile, was shot dead by a police officer in St Anthony,...

Read More
Four Turner Prize nominees are announced Related Press Four Turner Prize nominees are announced The New York Times : 26 April 2018

An organization that uses architectural rendering software to uncover human rights abuses and three artists depicting social, racial and political issues in film have been nominated for the Turner Prize, Britain's prestigious contemporary art award, Tate Britain announced on Thursday. The research organization Forensic Architecture, and the artists...

Read More

In Related Video

Luke Willis Thompson | Turner Prize Nominee 2018 | TateShots Related Video & Audio Luke Willis Thompson | Turner Prize Nominee 2018 | TateShots Tate : 28 September 2018

Luke Willis Thompson works across film, performance, installation and sculpture to tackle traumatic histories of class, racial and social inequality, institutional violence, colonialism and forced migration.

Forensic Architecture, Naeem Mohaiemen up for Turner art prize Related Video & Audio Forensic Architecture, Naeem Mohaiemen up for Turner art prize Al Jazeera : 25 September 2018

It is the biggest and most controversial competition in the art world - often challenging what can be defined as art.This year, the Turner Prize is all about the creator rather than the creation and features only film, no other form of art.


Be among the first to know when new artworks and exhibitions by Luke Willis Thompson are added to Ocula.


Scan the QR Code via WeChat to follow Ocula's official account.

iCal GoogleYahooOutlook