deep dive (pause) uncoiling memory

Taking time to imagine and reimagine is at the core of Alberta Whittle’s work, and central to her new presentation deep dive (pause) uncoiling memory. In an immersive environment, the artist encourages us to slow down, in order that we may collectively consider the historic legacies and contemporary expressions of racism, colonialism and migration, and begin to think outside of these damaging frameworks.

Across two rooms in a former boatyard, Alberta presents new works in tapestry, film and sculpture, connected through a shared vocabulary of motifs and ideas. Produced in collaboration with a network of artists, choreographers and performers, whom Alberta terms her accomplices, the installation reveals layers of meaning through the collaging of imagery, materials and form and continues the artist’s motivation to manifest self-compassion and collective care as key methods in battling anti-blackness.

Entanglement is more than blood, a new large-scale tapestry is imbued with Alberta’s rich symbolism of water, gateways, hands, snakes and shells. Acting as a portal, it continues the artist’s visual exploration into notions of birth and death; transformation and immortality; health and healing. Situated next to a portrait of the artist, aged 7, by her mother Janice Whittle the works intimately remind us of the significance of family, kinship and ancestral histories that echo throughout the presentation.

Imagery found in the tapestry echoes throughout Alberta’s ambitious new film Lagerah – The Last Born, a workanchored around theories of abolition, rebellion, ancestral knowledge and love. Shot on location in Scotland, London and Barbados and featuring footage from West Africa as well as from Venice, the film melds a collection of scenes that give focus to the strength of contemporary Black womxn, whose individual acts of resistance are bound together through the artist’s conceptual storytelling. Alberta situates Black love in proximity with historical sites of trauma, re-inscribed with rage, hope and exhaustion. Gestures, rituals and moments of intimacy are poignantly underpinned by a deep reflection on grief, loss and mourning, a resolute reminder of the trauma inflicted upon the Black body and of white privilege and power.

Both the film and tapestry are framed within gate-like structures The Choir is waiting at the threshold and (pause), which divide and contain the spaces, drawing associations with enclosures, barriers or thresholds. Fabricated in steel the deep green colours of the metalwork are offset by stained glass panels in rippling purple and pink tones that nod to the colours of the glass lamps that shine across Venice. It is within these sculptural forms Alberta invites us to gather, to pause, reflect and remember.

Echoing the artist’s ethos of care and healing, visitors to the space will be offered items of comfort such as handmade blankets and herbal teas created by family, friends and collaborators and are provided with custom made seating both inside and out in which as their title refers to take a great to rest. With students and early career practitioners from across Scotland and South Africa invigilating the exhibition and providing a warm welcome to all that come to the experience of the exhibition.

At a time in history when it is not enough for the world to merely acknowledge global injustice, the exhibition invites us to unravel contested and difficult histories and creates an open space for conversation, hope, healing, and reconciliation. Building on themes established in previous work, this new exhibition demonstrates the artist’s unmatched ability to tell difficult, and often painful, stories with empathy, vulnerability, and an abundance of love, something the artist is intentional about

The luxury of amnesia is a really potent idea in my practice. For so long there was this complete reluctance and avoidance in discussing Scotland’s role within slavery and within plantation economies. There’s this sense that racism and police brutality is an English problem or an American problem, something that isn’t happening on these shores. There are ways in which the luxury of amnesia has been nurtured by Governments, by the stories we tell ourselves, by ways we find to avoid our own complicity with our own privilege – and it’s interesting to think about the conversations that are still missing.

There’s a numbness that can happen when you just see names and that endless footage of George Floyd being murdered. I wanted to find a way to think about these ideas without re-traumatising myself or re-traumatising the audience, and I think there are other ways to do that – and that led me to really return to love. I wanted there to be that place for love in the work because it ends at such a place of sorrow when I think about the endless list of names that are growing.”- Alberta Whittle

A key aim of the Scotland+Venice partnership is to enable audiences in Scotland to engage with the work being shown in Venice. In partnership with LUX Scotland, from late 2022, the film Lagareh – The Last Born will tour art and screening venues across Scotland. Forma, London will lead on a subsequent international tour of the film. Plans are also being made for the artist’s presentation to feature at the heart of a major solo show of her work at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in 2023. Offering a compelling insight into the artist’s career to date, it will include works in a range of media alongside those shown in Venice giving the audience the opportunity to experience first-hand the ambition and breadth of Alberta’s practice.

The selection of the artist was made following an open, competitive process. Members of the selection panel were:

Amanda Catto, Head of Visual Arts at Creative Scotland and Chair of the Scotland + Venice partnership, Simon Groom, (Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art), Norah Campbell (British Council), Fatos Üstek (Liverpool Biennial), Zoé Whitley, (Chisenhale Gallery).

Alberta Whittle b. 1980 Bridgetown, Barbados. She lives and works in Glasgow.
Selected solo exhibitions and presentations include: The British Art Show 9 (2021-22), Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh (2021), Liverpool Biennale (2021), Art Night London (2021), Glasgow International (2021), Grand Union, Birmingham (2020) and Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee (2019). Selected group exhibitions include: Life Between Islands Caribbean: British Art 1950s to Now, Tate Britain (2021-22), and those held at Kunstal Trondheim, Norway (2021), Gothenburg Biennale (2021), The Lisson Gallery, London (2021), MIMA Middlesborough (2021), Remai Modern, Saskatoon, Canada (2021), Eastside Projects, Birmingham (2020), Edinburgh Printmakers, Edinburgh (2019) and the 13th Havana Biennial, Cuba (2019).

Forthcoming exhibitions include group shows at Fotografiska, New York; Hessel Museum of Art, New York, Moderna Museet Malmö, Sweden, La Casa Encendida, Madrid, Spain and a solo exhibition as part of British Art Show 9, Plymouth. This full presentation will return to Scotland and be exhibited with other works by Alberta at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, opening in spring 2023.

Alberta was awarded a Turner Bursary, the Frieze Artist Award and a Henry Moore Foundation Artist Award in 2020.

Exhibition Dates

April 23 2022 to November 27 2022

Location

Docks Cantieri Cucchini
S. Pietro di Castello, 40, 30122

The Scotland venue is situated between the Giardini and Arsenale, the two main sites of the Biennale.
View a map of the location of the venue 

Profile

Alberta Whittle

Alberta Whittle’s creative practice is motivated by the desire to manifest self-compassion and collective care as key methods in battling anti-blackness. She choreographs interactive installations, using film, sculpture and performance as site-specific artworks in public and private spaces. Read more

14 June 2022 — Writing

Three questions with LUX Scotland

Photo of some of the LUX Scotland team stood outside with sandstone buildings in the background.
Photo: by Matthew A Williams of Marcus Jack, Eve Smith, Annie Crabtree, Kitty Anderson & David Upton

As summer takes foot across Scotland and Venice, and memories of spring fade into our individual and collective memory, we're back with the next instalment of our 'Three questions with...' series. In conversation with Kitty Anderson, Director at LUX Scotland, we explore how working with Alberta and the process of co-creation cements a powerful thread of togetherness in deep dive (pause) uncoiling memory. Read more

29 April 2022 — Writing

Three questions with Dovecot Studios

As the world enters into the space that is deep dive (pause) uncoiling memory, we're back from the most triumphant opening week in Venice and enjoying moments of reflection and deep thought on this historic work by Alberta Whittle. Read more

20 April 2022 — Writing

deep dive (pause) uncoiling memory – accompanying writing

An illustration of a hand holding shells in front of a diamond pattern sits alongside a poem by Alberta Whittle, entitled Looking the snare in the eye. It says "I We are falling now. Falling through time, whirling. Dancing, Jack-knifing. And twisting until the chain pulls tight and I cannot breathe. Stop. Listen to your heart. I want you to know you are safe in my deep, even when you didn't dare hope that I would exist (some day), You are safe, even when you looked death in the eye. But now you are ashes beneath the soil, in the sand, in mud, with the worms that wringgle and eat and shit and fuck and WREAK! Retracing steps worn away by time, I look fo refuge in shorelines but find routes no longer open. Instead I see carcasses of wooden ships wreaked and spent on the horizon. Not welcome. No welcome here. Adorning myself in dazzle, I step into the water."
An excerpt from the publication by Alberta Whittle

deep dive (pause) uncoiling memory is an exhibition by artist Alberta Whittle commissioned on the occasion of the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, by the Scotland + Venice partnership. Read more

20 April 2022 — News

Press Release: Scotland + Venice presents Alberta Whittle and ‘deep dive (pause) uncoiling memory’

Image: deep dive (pause) uncoiling memory, 2022 Installation Shot Photographer Cristiano Corte, © Alberta Whittle. Courtesy the artist, Scotland + Venice & Forma London

The Scotland + Venice partnership is delighted to present Alberta Whittle and her new body of work deep dive (pause) uncoiling memory at Biennale Arte 2022. At a time in history when it is not enough for the world to merely acknowledge global injustice, this remarkable exhibition invites us to unravel contested and difficult histories and creates an open space for conversation, hope, healing, and reconciliation. Read more

15 April 2022 — News

The Countdown to Venice Continues

An image still from the film Lagareh of a Black dancer wearing a kilt and a white shirt. The dancer holds two long knives in her hands and stands on green grass with a blue sky behind her and a castle-like building to her left.
Alberta Whittle, Lagerah – The Last Born, (film still – single channel video), 2022, Photographer Matthew Arthur Williams, © Alberta Whittle. Courtesy the artist & Scotland+Venice

With just over a week until deep dive (pause) uncoiling memory opens in Venice we are thrilled to continue the journey with our latest newsletter detailing what’s new and upcoming. As installation wrapped up in Venice be sure to keep an eye on our Instagram Stories for a behind the scenes look at all of the installation action. Read more

15 April 2022 — News

Three questions with Forma

Image is a still from the film RESET by Alberta Whittle. It is of a brown arm reaching out behind a tree trunk with a field of wheat in the background.
Alberta Whittle RESET, 2020 Co-commissioned & co-produced by Frieze and Forma © Alberta Whittle Photograph by Matthew A Williams

With Alberta Whitte's deep dive (pause) uncoiling memory opening in Venice next week, we're taking a moment to pause to embrace the community that helps brings the spirit of collaboration to life. This week's 'Three questions with...' interview sees us chat with Chris Rawcliffe, Artistic Director at Forma. Read more

8 April 2022 — News

Three questions with Art Night

Image of Alberta Whittle and Helen Nisbet stood on a red carpeted staircase.
Helen Nisbet, Artistic Director of our Scotland + Venice Creative Partner Art Night, with Alberta Whittle after Alberta’s Art Night 2021 performance at @twotempleplace

Collaboration is one of the many joys that Alberta Whittle encompasses in her practice. Whether it be fellow collaborators in her artwork or organisations committed to decolonising the arts and widening participation across Scotland, the UK, and the world; for her, it is a powerful tool for creation. Read more

7 April 2022 — News

The Countdown to Venice Begins

Image: Alberta Whittle, Lagareh – The Last Born, (film still – single channel video), 2022, Photographer Matthew Arthur Williams, © Alberta Whittle. Courtesy the artist, Scotland+Venice, and Forma

Following the exciting announcement of Alberta Whittle’s deep dive (pause) uncoiling memory Collateral Event for the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, the road to Venice has officially begun as April gets under way. Read more

30 March 2022 — News

Press Release: 2022 Scotland + Venice Professional Development Programme Announced

Image: Matthew Arthur Williams

Following the announcement of Alberta Whittle's Biennale Arte 2022 Collateral Event with Scotland +Venice - set to open to the public on April 23rd - students and early career practitioners from nine universities, colleges and arts organisations across Scotland have embarked on a career-defining journey designed to provide them with an invaluable learning experience in the visual arts. Read more

7 March 2022 — News

Press Release: Alberta Whittle to present deep dive (pause) uncoiling memory

Image: Alberta Whittle, Lagareh – The Last Born, (film still – single channel video), 2022, Photographer Matthew Arthur Williams, © Alberta Whittle. Courtesy the artist, Scotland+Venice, and Forma

  The Scotland + Venice partners are delighted to confirm a major exhibition of new work by Alberta Whittle has been confirmed by La Biennale di Venezia as a Collateral Event at the 59th International Art Exhibition, taking place from 23rd April - 27th November 2022. Read more

21 December 2021 — Learning post

Professional Development Opportunity Supported by SCAN

Scottish Contemporary Art logo

Scotland + Venice and Scottish Contemporary Art Network (SCAN) are looking for an Exhibition Assistant to join the team taking part in the Scotland + Venice Professional Development Programme (PDP), for the Venice Biennale 2022.  This opportunity will take place over 4 weeks during the Biennale, between April 2022 and November 2022 and is supported by Scottish Contemporary Art Network (SCAN). Read more

7 April 2021 — Commission Announcement

Alberta Whittle

Commissioned by the Scotland + Venice Partnership On behalf of the Scotland + Venice partnership, Creative Scotland is delighted to announce that Alberta Whittle has been commissioned to develop new work which will be put forward to represent Scotland as a collateral event at the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia at the Arsenale Docks, S. Read more

image: Alberta Whittle by Matthew A Williams

Profile

Alberta Whittle

Alberta Whittle’s creative practice is motivated by the desire to manifest self-compassion and collective care as key methods in battling anti-blackness. She choreographs interactive installations, using film, sculpture and performance as site-specific artworks in public and private spaces. Read more