Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to EyeContact. You are invited to respond to reviews and contribute to discussion by registering to participate.

JH

Luke Willis Thompson at Hopkinson Mossman

AA
View Discussion
Luke Willis Thompson, autoportrait, 35 mm silent b/w film, as installed at Hopkinson Mossman Luke Willis Thompson, autoportrait, 35 mm silent b/w film, as installed at Hopkinson Mossman.

It might be argued that by making a sequence of works like this one and the works in 'Shout Whisper Wail!', Thompson is conflating racially-motivated murder with bumbling manslaughter, for the three cases of police-caused deaths seem very different. However, on the evidence of the films of Castile's death, the American court's rejection of manslaughter is alarming, especially if it is true that the victim's gun was found after his death to be still in his back pocket.

Auckland

 

Luke Willis Thompson
autoportrait

 

15 September - 11 October 2017

With related work currently on display in Nastasha Conland’s Shout Whisper Wail! at AAG, and this project recently presented in Chisenhale Gallery in East London (where Luke Willis Thompson had a residency), autoportrait is based on an incident last year in Minnesota in when a black driver (Philando Castile) was pulled over by a Latino policeman (Jeromino Yanez) for a traffic violation and shot dead, his death recorded by his girlfriend (Diamond Reynolds) with her cell phone and placed on Facebook Live. She was in the car with her daughter, and is the subject of Thompson’s 35 mm film, a 9 minute silent loop shown (noisily) via a projector.

This bafflingly preventable incident and its legal consequences has had a lot of media coverage, especially as there was a trial where Yanez was acquitted of manslaughter charges, and subsequent public protests. (There was also another trial, of Reynolds, relating to another incident.) Reynolds’ video of the shooting tragedy and another video taken by another policeman are both widely available online.

Thompson’s filmed b/w portrait of Reynolds is made in three-quarter angle and in two parts. One—showing her more distant from the camera—presents her dressed in a patterned dark blouse, with plaited pigtails, false eyelashes and praying or talking to herself in an agitated fashion. The other—where she is closer to the camera—shows her wearing a voluminous white blouse and large aviator glasses. She is not speaking and comparatively calm.

Both portraits, although ostensibly about an appalling tragedy caused at the very least by police stupidity, have a glamorous allure, especially compared to say the work in Shout Whisper Wail! which is more subtly confrontational (the sitters are more frontally positioned) and less tonally extended. The autoportrait images are a vivid contrast to the news media coloured images of Reynolds in a distraught state being interviewed in relation to this and the other later court case. They could be from a fashion shoot.

Thompson’s presentation is in the large gallery which you enter via a fabric-walled corridor that shuts off the second, much smaller gallery. The whirring sound of the film projector is dominant and one is struck by the beauty of the b/w 35 mm film with its fastidious lighting, deep resonant dark tones and piercing whites. It is clear that Thompson here is serving as an advocate (or spin doctor) for the controversial Reynolds. He is making her look like a model, and providing a political tool to counter mainstream American media and the claims of the police.

It might be argued that by making a sequence of works like this one and the works in Shout Whisper Wail!, Thompson is conflating racially-motivated murder with bumbling manslaughter, for the three cases of police-caused deaths seem very different. However, on the evidence of the films of Castile’s death, the American court’s rejection of manslaughter is highly alarming, especially if it is true that the victim’s gun was found after his death to be still in his back pocket.

In some ways this film is an interesting foil to Thompson’s untitled installation with the three roller doors, exhibited in Te Tuhi (with a judge’s commentary on court proceedings) in 2012. That work is the best work of Thompson’s career so far, in my opinion. Autoportrait, in comparison, has no textual component and seems conceptually slightly stunted, through parallels can be found if you dig around online and investigate the back story—independentally of attending to the gorgeously shot film. Worth doing.

John Hurrell

Print | Facebook | Twitter | Email

 

Recent Posts by John Hurrell

JH
Installation of Jeena Shin's Movement Image Time exhibition at Two Rooms. Photo: Sam Hartnett

Shin Works on Canvas and Paper

TWO ROOMS

Auckland

 

Jeena Shin
Movement Image Time

 

27 October - 25 November

JH
John Stezaker, Marriage (Film Portrait Collage) CVI, 2013, collage, 30.3 x 23.3 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and The Approach, London.

Repulsively Enchanting Stezaker

CITY GALLERY WELLINGTON

Wellington

 

John Stezaker
Lost World

 

26 August -19 November 2017

JH
Tomislav Nikolic, How Long Must We Live Right Before We Don't Even Have To Try (Role Model), 2017: #1, mixed medai; #2, mixed media; #3, mixed media;

Tomislav Nikolic Paintings

FOX JENSEN MCCRORY

Auckland

 

Tomislav Nikolic

How long must we live right before we don’t even have to try

12 October - 11 November 2017

JH
Phil Dadson: Notation  Series #6 (961), painting; Tonethrone, instrument; HEADSUP@961: 23.8.16, projection

Dadson at Headlands

AUDIO FOUNDATION

Auckland

 

Phil Dadson
Shiver Me Timbres: Solos and Collaborations with a Multi-Voiced Instrument

 

5 October - 28 October 2017