Originally from Barbados and currently based in Scotland, Alberta Whittle (b. 1980, Bridgetown, Barbados) directly engages her diasporic heritage to create works that meditate on the journeys, both historical and present, of Black communities across the Caribbean Sea and beyond. Challenging the ongoing erasure of Black bodies, voices, and narratives, Whittle’s research-driven practice is informed by an active process of remembering, often resulting in choreographed installations that invoke self-compassion and collective care as integral to building a decolonized future.
This presentation, the artist’s first in Los Angeles, features Whittle’s 2019 multimedia installation between a whisper and a cry. Projected onto the remnants of a sunken chattel house—an architectural structure ubiquitous to the artist’s native homeland—the featured video is composed of archival and filmed footage with a narrative that traverses month by month through the hurricane season. From “June too soon” to “October all over,” Whittle’s work summons the ever-present ghosts of colonialism, the transatlantic slave trade, and the climate crisis as she chronicles the entangled histories of empire and environmental catastrophe across bodies and borders. Whether in drought or flood, water is revealed as a site to absorb, sink, and hold these hauntings. In its narrative, the work references the writings of Black studies scholar Christina Sharpe, undertaking her description of anti-Blackness as a kind of “weather”—an almost atmospheric phenomenon—that oscillates and submerges, washing over entire communities like the waves of blue that envelop the gallery visitor. Interrogating the memories and life that these waters hold, between a whisper and a cry asks audiences to consider their own bodies and their relationship to the ongoing effects of colonialism and slavery still rippling outward. In this way, Whittle’s work is an offering, an act towards repair, an insistence on survival, and an invitation to release.
Alberta Whittle: between a whisper and a cry is organized by Amanda Sroka, Senior Curator, with Caroline Ellen Liou, Curatorial Assistant.
Special thanks to Nicola Vassell Gallery, New York and The Modern Institute, Glasgow.
ICA LA is supported by the Curator’s Council and Fieldwork Council.