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Art Taipei 2018 Ocula Report Art Taipei 2018 10 November 201810 Nov 2018 : Diana d’Arenberg for Ocula

'There is nothing more boring than the story of decline,' a journalist remarked at an art criticism panel I attended the evening before making the trip to see Art Taipei (26–29 October 2018). As I attended the opening night of Asia's oldest art fair, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, those words rang in my head. Wandering up and down...

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Charwei Tsai Ocula Conversation Charwei Tsai

Taiwanese artist Charwei Tsai's memorising and compulsive writing of the Heart Sutra—a Buddhist scripture that distills the wisdom of impermanence—is at the heart of her practice. Over the past ten years, Tsai has moved from writing to drawing, photography, and film—a selection of which is being presented at the Centre for Chinese...

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Crush at Para Site: What if you couldn’t have it? Ocula Report Crush at Para Site: What if you couldn’t have it? 10 November 201810 Nov 2018 : Hera Chan for Ocula

Drawn on paper by Oscar Chan Yik Long in gestural black ink strokes, Cupid (2015) greets visitors with a sinister toothy smile as they enter Para Site. The strikingly fearsome figure is positioned on the wall of the gallery's entrance, near one of Chen Dandizi's vertical neon tube lights, part of the series 'Tick Away' (2015), along which a...

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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
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Featured Artworks

Untitled (we people who are darker than blue) by Luke Willis Thompson contemporary artwork Luke Willis ThompsonUntitled (we people who are darker than blue), 2010 collection of artworks from J Weir Funeral Homes, Ponsonby, deconsecrated edition of c-type prints
Hopkinson Mossman Contact gallery
Untitled by Luke Willis Thompson contemporary artwork Luke Willis ThompsonUntitled, 2012 spray paint, garage doors from Mahia rd, Manurewa
200 x 250 cm
Hopkinson Mossman Contact gallery
Yaw by Luke Willis Thompson contemporary artwork Luke Willis ThompsonYaw, 2010 mixed media
Hopkinson Mossman Request price & availability

Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Luke Willis Thompson, autoportrait at Hopkinson Mossman,
15 September–14 October 2017 Luke Willis Thompson autoportraitHopkinson Mossman, Auckland
Contemporary art exhibition, Fiona Amundsen, Peter Robinson, Luke Willis Thompson, Pequod at Hopkinson Mossman,
21 November–20 December 2014 Fiona Amundsen, Peter Robinson, Luke Willis Thompson PequodHopkinson Mossman, Auckland
Contemporary art exhibition, Luke Willis Thompson, inthisholeonthisislandwhereiam at Hopkinson Mossman,
14–31 March 2012 Luke Willis Thompson inthisholeonthisislandwhereiamHopkinson Mossman, Auckland

Represented By

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....

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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...

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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...

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Related Press

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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,...

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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...

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Shout Whisper Wail Related Press Shout Whisper Wail EyeContact : 11 August 2017

Ten mini exhibitions from various artists represented in the Chartwell Collection are presented here in an exhibition that is smaller in floor meterage than earlier Chartwell shows, but nevertheless tightly compact. While it looks cohesive, the disadvantage is that the thematic content revolves around sound, as you can tell from the title, and in...

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Silent Testimony: Some Questions for Luke Willis Thompson Related Press Silent Testimony: Some Questions for Luke Willis Thompson Art in America : 10 July 2017

Auckland-born, London-based artist Luke Willis Thompson deals with representations of race and violence in his work. For the New Museum's 2015 Triennial, he had guides lead visitors away from the museum to nearby locations that resonate as sites of racial tension. In Cemetery of Uniforms and Liveries, at Berlin's Galerie Nagel Draxler in 2016, he...

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