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Creative Scotland announces 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. Pietro di Castello. This is a multi-partner project initiated by Glasgow International and is supported by Glasgow Life.

Alberta Whittle. Photographer: Matthew A Williams

This will be the tenth commission by the Scotland + Venice partnership (Creative Scotland, British Council Scotland, National Galleries of Scotland, Architecture and Design Scotland and the Scottish Government). Working in film, sculpture, print, performance and installation, Whittle’s work is often made in response to current events and draws on her research into the African diaspora and the decolonisation of Western histories.  Major themes include colonialism, xenophobia, climate change and the global pandemic.

Amanda Catto, Chair of the Scotland + Venice partnership commented:  “We’re thrilled to be working with Alberta Whittle on this timely and ambitious exhibition of new work.  Alberta is a remarkable artist with a profoundly international outlook and a strong, empathetic practice.

“In deeply unsettling times her work offers us remarkable moments for honest reflection, deep connection and collective hope and we’re excited to see how the project will develop in the coming months.” 

Born in Bridgetown, Barbados, Alberta Whittle lives and works in Glasgow and is a Research Associate at The University of Johannesburg.  She was awarded a Turner Bursary, the Frieze Artist Award and a Henry Moore Foundation Artist Award in 2020 and is PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh.  

Alberta Whittle said: “After living in Scotland for nearly all of my adult life, I was thrilled to hear the news that I would be representing the country at the Venice Biennale.  With so many urgent conversations on health, grief, refusal, race and healing at the forefront of my mind, now is the moment to ask questions about how we can unlearn and be more actively reflective on a personal level as well as collectively.  I’m looking forward to using this opportunity to develop new work in these charged times.”  

Over 2021, Whittle will be sharing new work as part of Art Night London, British Art Show 9, Liverpool Biennial, business as usual: hostile environment at Glasgow Sculpture Studios for Glasgow International and Right of Admission at the University of Johannesburg.   

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Alberta Whittle stands out as a Scottish-based artist who explores challenging questions on inequality and the environment in her acclaimed films, sculptures, performances and installations. I am pleased that she will be representing Scotland and I look forward to seeing what topics she will address and how she will present them.”

Whittle’s work has been acquired by major public collections including the National Galleries of Scotland, Glasgow Museums Collections, and the Contemporary Art Research Collection at Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh, as well as by other private collections.   

Scotland + Venice has also appointed Lori Anderson as Development Manager to take forward the strategic development of this flagship project for Scotland. Lori has most recently been Executive Director at Creative Dundee and prior to this delivered the redevelopment of Collective on Edinburgh’s Calton Hill. She is Vice Chair and Board member of Scottish Contemporary Art Network (SCAN).  

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.

Alberta has exhibited and performed in various solo and group shows, including at Grand Union (2020), Copperfield, London (2020), Eastside Projects (2020), DCA (2019), GoMA, Glasgow (2019), Pig Rock Bothy at the National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh (2019), 13th Havana Biennale, Cuba (2019), Tyburn Gallery — Now Tyburn Foundation, London (2019), The City Arts Centre, Edinburgh (2019), The Showroom, London (2018), National Art Gallery of the Bahamas (2018), RAW Material, Dakar (2018), FADA Gallery, Johannesburg (2018), the Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg (2017), FRAMER FRAMED, Amsterdam (2015), Goethe On Main, Johannesburg (2015), at the Johannesburg Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale, Venice (2015), and BOZAR, Brussels (2014), amongst others.

For more information, please visit Scotland + Venice and Alberta Whittle’s website.

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