Akeroyd Collection


Luke Willis Thompson, Cemetery of Uniforms and Liveries, 2016

Cemetery of Uniforms and Liveries is comprized of stark, silent 16mm film footage, transferred to video, of two young black men. Each is depicted one after the other in dramatically slowed-down, black and white portrait shots. The frame is slightly jumpy as if made with a handheld camera, and the film stock grainy and static. The action consists solely of the subjects’ micro bodily processes: breathing is visible via observation of the neck, nostrils and rising and falling chests, facial expressions are heightened at this close and slow cropping, we see eyes blinking but also welling up with tears. The first man is young; maybe in his late teens or early 20s. He looks just slightly beyond the camera with a distant, enigmatic gaze. The second man is slightly older and he stares directly at the lens. The first displays a vulnerability, the second a confidence, perhaps anger. The title is taken from Marcel Duchamp’s study for the lower portion of his ‘Large Glass’ work of 1923 Also known as The Bride stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even. The lower portion of the work is devoted to the management, categorization and organizing of the ‘bachelors’ of the piece. In Thompson’s work, we know these men’s liveshave been categorized and managed to the extent that they have been indelibly touched by police violence. Cemetery of Uniforms and Liveries forms part of an informal body of related works that have been presented together in the past including Autoportrait (2017), the silent black-and-white 35mm film of Diamond Reynolds, the partner of Philando Castile who was killed by police in Minnesota during a traffic stop. 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.

MediumKodak Tri-X 16mm b&w reversal stock HD video telecine transfer silent, 9.1@16fps
Duration9 minutes 8 seconds
Editionof 3 + 1 AP