Luke Willis Thompson, Autoportrait, 2017
Autoportrait depicts Diamond Reynolds, the partner of Philando Castile who was killed by police in Minnesota during a traffic stop incident in 2016, while she sat next to him in their car. Shot in silent, black and white 35mm film, the work continues Thompson’s preoccupation with issues of personal, artistic and political agency. In July 2016, Diamond Reynolds broadcast live via Facebook the moments immediately after the fatal shooting of her partner. Thompson invited Reynolds to work with him to produce a visual response that could act as a partner to her broadcast, complicating the aesthetics of the well-known image of Reynolds, caught in a moment of extreme brutality and violence at the hands of the police, which had circulated widely online and in the news already. Thompson’s silent filmed portrait of Reynolds was made during a period of uncertainty between the charging of the officer who killed Castille and the subsequent trial. Autoportrait forms part of an informal body of related works that have been presented together in the past including Cemetery of Uniforms and Liveries (2016), a two-part black-and-white 16mm film shot of two black Londoners whose maternal relatives were killed by British police. Together, and in each case individually, these films highlight Thompson’s deep engagement with the history and current reality of institutional violence and racial injustice. Considering personal experience, inherited prejudice, and global political situations, Thompson poetically and carefully reveals the workings of power and how its implementation impacts people of colour everywhere.