Joel Ivan Thomas is a photographic and moving image artist living in Berlin and a writer based in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland), New Zealand. His work explores identity, memory, and the intangibility of experience.
Joel studied Screen Arts at Unitec Insitute of Technology (2014-2017). During his studies, he also began his career as a photographer, photographing Auckland's art and music scene for
local magazines. After graduation, he began writing plays and articles exploring subculture arts, and also branched out into photojournalism, shooting for magazines such as VICE
and The Spinoff. In late 2017, he began shooting autobiographical images on 35mm film, immersing himself in the tangibility it gave to memory, perspective, and emotion. His first exhibition was the 2018 group show Backhome at Lowtide in Auckland.
In 2018 Joel moved to Berlin where he continued to explore creating autobiographical images and began his ongoing series Reciting Hazy Sympathies. Images from this series were
exhibited in his 2019 solo exhibition Take Photos in Your Dreams and Bring Them Back With You, and were woven into the 2020 photo and video exhibition Vacation (hosted by the art collective Iconic Mirage). He also made art films for the 2019/2020 Berlin exhibition Dreamworld and made two art films in collaboration with performer Philisha Kay that were shown online in a 2021 exhibition curated by ROSY.DX.
In 2020, Joel gravitated toward fashion and editorial photography, which he loves for its ability to explore personal identity. He often collaborates with designers on shoots in his Kreuzberg studio. In 2020, his Goth Picnic shoot was published online in Hart Magazine, and he has other work that will be published in fashion magazines in 2021.