Tom Oliver

'The Past is entombed in the Present!' (2020)

Thomas Oliver (b. 1999, England) is a visual artist who works across video, installation and photography. His practice explores mortality, afterlife and liminal spaces through the lens of his personal experience with open-heart surgery. In a culture that appears to welcome the extinction of the sacred, his work aims to re-introduce a spiritual gaze onto medical, domestic and personal experiences.


As our access to physical space has been restricted many find themselves exploring an increasing number of virtual spaces. Virtual gallery tours have temporarily replaced the role of IRL galleries, in his new work ‘The Past is entombed in the Present!’ (2020), Oliver examines the relationship between these two spaces. Through the lens of Jacque Derrida’s idea of Hauntology the film poses the virtual gallery tour as a ghost of The National Gallery’s physical building. An interview sequence is borrowed from the film ‘Ghost Dance’ (1983) in which Derrida plays the role of himself, where he begins to unpack the idea of performing a version of oneself. The dialogue from this scene has been re-interpreted to present the building in conversation with it’s own virtual ghost - Oliver’s film asks you to consider the ghosts of your own life.