Luke Willis Thompson  (a) breathing: collective noun

11/08/2021 – 31/12/2021

We are proud to announce that

Luke Willis Thompson

 (a) breathing: collective noun
now installed on the facade of the former U.S. Embassy building in Oslo, designed by Eero Saarinen, opposite the Nobel Institute, until December 2021

Press Release

In February 2021, the social movement Black Lives Matter (BLM) was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Parliamentary Assemblyman Petter Eide. This nomination was spearheaded by Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff, Professor of African-American Studies and Psychology at Yale University and co-signed by 187 of his academic colleagues.

BLM was nominated and longlisted with the understanding that it is a movement dedicated to the cessation of police brutality which raises “global awareness and consciousness about racial justice” (Eide, P). While this may be the most publicly acknowledged purpose of BLM, a more expanded interpretation, held by many in the movement, is possible. BLM proposes the questioning of statecraft itself: if Black lives are to truly ‘matter’, what changes must occur in all our institutions, systems, and constitutions, to make this axiom a reality?

Fundamentally, BLM is a movement for planetary peace, beyond – but not excluding – activism, diplomacy, reportage, or social justice: beyond the cluster of ideas that have traditionally guided the Nobel committee to its laureates since the award’s inception.

The jury is currently in deliberations, and the Nobel Peace Prize laureate is announced on the Friday of the first full week of October. BLM deserves to win.

The work (a) breathing: collective noun features a single Black male peacefully lying supine in a grassy field of bluebells. The figure, while appearing a singular being, is subtly composed from nine exposures within a sole 8 x 10 photographic negative to record the mechanics of breathing within a single image. Thus, rather than capturing either a moment of inhalation or exhalation, the image records simultaneously the multiple phases of oxygen moving through the model’s body as breathing affects the shape and positioning of the body; the eyelids, lips, ribs, clavicles, shoulders, and veins blur and multiply within the image as a result of breathing. The image speaks deeply to the philosophical tenets of the BLM movement. That is, when one insists or enacts their right to survival, even in silence, it is an act for a multitude.

(a) breathing: collective noun is now installed opposite the Nobel institute, at the Eero Saarinen-designed former US embassy building in Oslo, through to December 2021.

Luke Willis Thompson (*1988) lives and works in London, UK. In his films, performances, and installations, questions of race, representation, and the body as a site of political inquiry recur.

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