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Elam graduate nominated for Turner Prize

Luke Willis Thompson
Luke Willis Thompson has been nominated for one of the world’s most prestigious art awards, the Turner Prize.


University of Auckland Young Alumnus of the Year 2018, Luke Willis Thompson has been nominated for one of the world’s most prestigious art awards, the Turner Prize.

Established in the United Kingdom in 1984, the Prize is judged by an independent panel and worth £25,000 to the winning artist.

Each year, four artists are nominated, who are British or predominantly working in the UK, for their outstanding exhibition or contribution from the previous year.

Luke’s installation Autoportrait 2017, also nominated for the 2018 Deutsche Borse Photography Foundation Prize, was commissioned by and first shown at Chisenhale Gallery, London.

Thompson, a New Zealander of Fijian and European heritage, is the first artist from the Pacific region since Boyd Webb in 1988, to be nominated for the Turner Prize.

Luke previously won New Zealand’s largest art award in 2014, the Walters Prize, with a work that featured his family’s suburban home. At just 25, he was the award’s youngest recipient.

Autoportait 2017, is an installation featuring a 35mm silent black and white film. The work is the result of a long collaboration with Diamond Reynolds, the young Black woman who famously livestreamed the aftermath of an incident when her fiancé, Philando Castile, was shot by a Minnesotan police officer after the car they were travelling in was pulled over. He died instantly. Her clip has been viewed by millions around the world and has given additional social and political attention to the on-going crisis in police enforcement in the United States.

“We at Elam are thrilled for Luke,” says Elam Head of School Associate Professor Peter Shand. “I have followed his practice closely since his postgraduate study with us. He is an exceptional artist whose international success reflects the subtlety and precision of his thinking and making. His nomination for one of the world’s most prestigious art awards is a tremendous achievement.”

Speaking of Autoportrait, Shand comments: “Autoportrait is a profound and deeply moving project. It addresses directly matters of considerable and on-going human and political importance. More importantly, Luke’s mode of working is anchored by a strong sense of ethical commitment and responsibility, which is a critical feature of this challenging, nuanced project. Having been fortunate enough to experience Autoportrait in London, Auckland and Wellington, it is a work that affects its audiences deeply even though it is very simply composed. This, I believe, arises from Luke’s extraordinary talent and recognises that really great art always hovers slightly beyond our reach to understand it fully, it demands more of us than full and finite declaration. It’s an astonishing, beautiful, courageous and compassionate work. Luke’s nomination is thoroughly deserved”

In addition to the Turner Prize, the four nominated artists are included in an exhibition, which this year will be at Tate Britain in London. That exhibition is a major event on the international arts calendar and in the past has frequently been the subject of considerable comment and debate.

The winner will be announced on 4 December.

Written by

University of Auckland

27 Apr 2018