Christian Thompson presents ‘Being Human Human Being’ in London

If you’re one of the lucky travellers enjoying a European summer now or indeed one of many Aussie expats in London, do check out Christian Thompson’s magnificent photographic installation in the Soho Photography Quarter – just off Oxford Street in London.

Dr Christian Thompson AO, from the King Billy series, 2010

The outdoor exhibition is titled ‘Being Human Human Being’ and comprises an immersive site-specific installation of works including a large-scale art frieze, cross street banners, a sound scape and projections.

Dr Christian Thompson AO, Being Human Human Being, Soho Photography Quarter. Photograph: Luke Hayes/The Photographers’ Gallery

Included will be pieces from the series’ King Billy (2010) and Flower Walls (2018-ongoing), both of which reflect on indigenous and diverse representation. On banners you will find Polari (2014) and Pagan Sun (2013), and in a soundscape Thompson shares, Burdi Burdi (Fire Fire) Quad mix (2022), where the artist sings in his father’s native language, Bidjara, which is now classified as extinct. Video works on view include Dead tongue (2015), and Amsterdam RMX (2020).

The artist has said of his intriguing compositions –

I think of them more as conceptual anti-portraits than self-portraits. My physical head and shoulders simply provide a template, something that I’m just constantly building on top of.

I’m always looking for materials: what I’m reading or listening to, where I am. It’s very much connected to that kind of research but it’s also connected to whatever is in the ether at that moment.

While I’m interested in portraiture – I don’t consider my work as portraiture because that suggests that I’m trying to portray myself, my own visage, my own image.

I employ images, icons, materials, metaphors to capture and idea and moment in time. There are many different things at play; taking a picture of myself is really the last thing that’s on my mind.

Dr Christian Thompson AO is a Bidjara descendent of the Kunja Nation from central western Queensland with Chinese-Australian, Anglo-Celtic, Norwegian and Sephardic Jewish heritage. His success in Australia lead to exponential adventure and experimentation abroad, a journey which he’s still on, living, practicing art and studying in Amsterdam and then Oxford.

Not only does Thompson present visually dynamic work imbued with complex and compelling ideas, he is also a scholar and was awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to the visual arts as a sculptor, photographer, video and performance artist, and as a role model for young Indigenous artists.