Ritual Intimacy is the first major survey of the work of Christian Thompson. The exhibition spans 15 years of his practice, bringing together photography, video, sculpture, performance and sound works to explore the relationship between form and the body through a process of auto-ethnography.
Ritual Intimacy also features an ambitious new commission, Berceuse 2017. In an immersive three-channel sound and video installation, Thompson sings in Bidjara – his ancestral language that is considered to be ’officially endangered’. Through works such as this, Thompson practices what he describes as ‘the simple yet profound idea that if even one word of an endangered language is spoken it continues to be a living language’.
Another key idea explored in Ritual Intimacy is Thompson’s concept of spiritual repatriation, which he recently developed in his PhD at the University of Oxford while working with the Australian collection of the Pitt Rivers Museum. Rather than appropriating or restaging problematic ethnographic images of Indigenous ancestors held in the Museum’s photographic collection, Thompson chose to spend significant periods of time with these images, absorbing their aura and developing a personal artistic and deferential response that is decisively empowered.