press release

Luke Willis Thompson. autoportrait
23 June – 27 August 2017
Opening: Thursday 22 June, 6.30 – 8.30pm

Chisenhale Gallery presents a new commission and the first solo exhibition in the UK by Luke Willis Thompson.

For his exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery, Thompson presents a portrait of Diamond Reynolds. In July 2016, Reynolds broadcast, via Facebook Live, the moments immediately after the fatal shooting of her partner Philando Castile by a police officer during a traffic-stop in Minnesota, United States. Reynolds’ video circulated widely online and amassed over six million views.

In November 2016, with the assistance of Chisenhale Gallery, Thompson established a conversation with Reynolds, and her lawyer, and invited Reynolds to work with him on the production of an artwork. Thompson proposed to make an aesthetic response that could act as a ‘sister-image’ to Reynolds’ video broadcast. Thompson and Reynolds agreed to produce a film together, to be presented in London, and which would break with the well-known image of Reynolds, caught in a moment of violence and distributed within a constant flow of news.

The final work was produced in April 2017. It is a silent portrait of Reynolds shot on 35mm, black and white film and will be presented in the gallery as a single screen work.

Luke Willis Thompson's exhibition continues our programme for 2017-18, which includes major new commissions by artists Alex Baczynski-Jenkins, Maeve Brennan and Hannah Black. Through his work, Thompson raises questions around race, representation and the body as site of political enquiry, themes which recur throughout Chisenhale’s programme for 2017.

Luke Willis Thompson (b. 1988 Auckland) lives and works in London. Thompson often situates his work outside of the gallery, connecting audiences directly with his chosen social context. For his 2015 commission for the New Museum Triennial for example, Thompson worked with a cast of performers, or guides, who led visitors away from the museum to locations throughout New York City that resonate as sites of racial tension. Through his work, Thompson challenges expectations of the exhibition experience. Audience members often encounter an uneasy exchange with the work, and are invited to consider their own position in relation to Thompson’s subject matter, which raises questions around both personal and political agency.

Selected solo exhibitions include Cemetery of Uniforms and Liveries, Galerie Nagel Draxler, Berlin; Sucu Mate/Born Dead, Hopkinson Mossman, Auckland; and Misadventure, IMA, Brisbane (all 2016). Recent group exhibitions include the São Paulo Biennale and Montréal Biennale (both 2016), Asia Pacific Triennial, Queensland Art Museum, Queensland and Surround Audience, New Museum Triennial, New York (both 2015). Thompson was awarded the Walters’ Prize in 2014.

Luke Willis Thompson was the Chisenhale Gallery Create Residency artist (2016-17). Thompson’s portrait of Diamond Reynolds builds on research he has made throughout his residency period, which began with an exploration into the history of the riots in London in 1981 and 2011. Thompson’s new commission reflects his ongoing enquiry into questions of race, class and social inequality. In his recent moving image work, Cemetery of Uniforms and Liveries (2016) also produced during the Chisenhale Gallery Create Residency, Thompson created filmed portraits of two young men from London whose maternal relatives were victims of police brutality.

Chisenhale Gallery Create Residency is an 18-month artists’ residency produced in collaboration with Create. The partnership with Create reflects mutual interests in commissioning artists to engage with Chisenhale Gallery’s location in east London and its varied social and cultural contexts. For the inaugural Chisenhale Gallery Create Residency (2012-14) artist Edward Thomasson worked with a group of performers from East London to produce two new works. Yuri Pattison was the Chisenhale Gallery Create Residency artist (2014-16), and produced a new work in response to East London’s Tech City.

Create exists to explore the ways artists can contribute to the lives of people in cities. As an organisation Create helps artists to connect more closely with communities through an ambitious programme of projects and their work is primarily focused on East London.

Luke Willis Thompson’s commission is produced in partnership with Create. With the support of Creative New Zealand Toi Aotearoa.