Luke Willis Thompson Shortlisted for Deutsche Börse
New Zealander Luke Willis Thompson, 29, is one of four to make the shortlist for the prestigious 2018 Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize.
It’s the 21st year of the prize, and this year the shortlisted projects all “reflect a shared concern with the production and manipulation of knowledge and systems of representation through visual formats,” the organisers of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize say.
Auckland-born Thompson has been nominated for his 35mm film called Autoportrait, which was on show from 23 June until 27 August at London’s Chisenhale Gallery.
The work was made with an American woman called Diamond Reynolds, who in July 2016 used Facebook Live to broadcast the moments immediately after her partner Philando Castile was fatally shot by a police officer during a traffic-stop in Minnesota. The video was widely circulated online and amassed over six million views; it was also played to a jury as evidence in June 2017, in a court case which saw the officer involved acquitted of all charges.
Working with Reynolds, Thompson created a “sister-image” to Reynolds’ original broadcast, hoping to break with what had become a well-known image of her caught in a moment of violence, which was distributed within the 24/7 news cycle. In doing so, he hoped “to question of the agency of Reynolds’ recording within, outside of, and beyond the conditions of predetermined racial power structures,” the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize organisers say.
According to a Guardian article from earlier this year, Thompson shows Reynolds as a formidable, complex presence. “Diamond,” Thompson says, “needed to be interpolated into cinematic history – the history of cinema owes black life something.” Autoportrait is intended as a counter to the camera phone footage Reynolds broadcast on Facebook – which was, and continues to be, widely shared. “She is recognised,” Thompson reminds Guardian journalist Hettie Judah, “for the worst day of her life.” He wanted to provide her with an alternative.
Thompson, who now lives in London, is a graduate of Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts and the Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
He won the Walters Prize, named in honour of the late New Zealand artist Gordon Walters, in 2014.
Original article by Diane Smyth, British Journal of Photography, November 28, 2017.
Photo by Andy Keate.