Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


Luke Willis Thompson debuts new work

Luke Willis Thompson debuts new work in first major New Zealand solo exhibition

Internationally acclaimed London-based New Zealand artist Luke Willis Thompson will open his first major solo exhibition in this country tomorrow at Victoria University of Wellington’s Adam Art Gallery.

The show, Luke Willis Thompson, will exhibit three of Thompson’s moving-image works, including a new film he made in Fiji in December as the Gallery’s Artist in Residence.

Each of the silent films picture their human subjects posing statically in front of the camera for three minutes. As the viewer reflects on the subject and their complex personal story, Thompson’s portraits provide a powerful commentary on racial and social injustice.

Gallery curator Stephen Cleland says Thompson’s subjects have complex and sobering personal histories—as detailed in the accompanying wall texts—that allude to real-life violence. “These cinematic portraits bring us face to face with those who’ve lost loved ones or who are linked to scenes of tragic conflict. On the surface, they’re very simple, but spending time with them opens up deeper levels.”

One of the films, autoportrait, features Diamond Reynolds who came to global attention after livestreaming on social media, the moment a Minnesota police officer shot and killed her boyfriend during a traffic stop.

autoportrait is the exact opposite to the footage that thrust Reynolds into the spotlight and changed her life. It’s shot on black and white 35mm film without sound or any hint of the drama that engulfed her.”

Thompson says he wanted to produce a ‘sister-image’ to the livestream video that would subvert the structure and logic of that original footage.

He says his works are an attempt to “find form for political silence”. And in an interview with United Kingdom news outlet The Guardian, said: “Diamond needed to be interpolated into cinematic history – the history of cinema owes black life something.”

Stephen says the filmic projections will be shown in near-total darkness to heighten the sobering and powerful effect of these silent representations.

Thompson’s new work, How Long? similarly documents human subjects who inherit the consequences of historical injustices.

This took the artist back to Fiji, where his father was born, to film four people whose identities are entwined in the history of Fiji’s engagement in international military combat. In doing so, Thompson indexes Fiji’s complex role, and its human consequences, in geopolitical scenarios from the 1970s to the present.

Gallery director Christina Barton says it is a privilege to have Thompson produce his latest work while the Gallery’s Artist in Residence.

“We’ve been watching his practice evolve through his exhibitions around the world. Our invitation to come to Wellington was a chance for him to realise a new work that brought him closer to his ancestral home, bringing the realities for Pacific peoples into the broader discussion of Black Lives Matter. This is important to us as a gallery located in the South Pacific.

“This show is a major presentation for the Gallery’s 2018 exhibition schedule and we are proud this is a key feature of this year’s visual arts programme of the New Zealand Festival,” she says.

The public is welcome to hear Thompson discuss his work at the Gallery on Saturday 24 February, 2–3pm.

Exhibition: Luke Willis Thompson
Opening night: Gallery opens 5.30pm, reception 6.30–8pm, Tuesday 20 February at the nearby Milk & Honey café
Exhibition dates: 21 February – 15 April 2018
Where: Adam Art Gallery, Victoria University of Wellington, Gate 3, Kelburn Parade, Wellington
Cost: Free

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


2021: NZ To Host Women’s Rugby World Cup

New Zealand’s successful bid to host the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup will raise the profile of the game locally and provide a valuable economic boost for the game, Minister for Sport and Recreation Grant Robertson says. More>>


Max Rashbrooke Review: Mahler 7 - NZSO

Gustav Mahler’s Seventh Symphony may be one of the least well-known of its ilk, but Edo de Waart and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra made a compelling case for a reassessment. They showed us a work of immense variety, surprising contrast and delicate shades of light and dark. More>>

Howard Davis Review: Strange Overtones - David Byrne's American Utopia Tour

Scotch-born singer-songwriter David Byrne starts each show on his latest world tour stroking a pink brain as he sits alone at a table in a gray three-button Kenzo suit singing a song called Here from his latest album American Utopia. More>>

Governor-General's Speech: Armistice Day 100 Years On

The response was more muted amongst our soldiers at the Front. Many received the news quietly... There was no cheering. The chaps didn’t get excited. It was just a matter of relief. We didn’t celebrate at all. More>>


Auckland Fringe Programme: A Celebration Of The Bizarre And Beautiful

Building on a huge 2018 programme that saw 492 creatives take 81 events for ventures around the city for a total of 347 performances, Auckland Fringe returns this summer, running February 19 – March 3, 2019. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland