23 April – 27 November 2022
Docks Cantieri Cucchini
S. Pietro di Castello 40
30122 Venice, Italy
Commissioners & Supporters
Alberta Whittle’s new film Lagareh is co-commissioned and produced by Forma for the Scottish exhibition at the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.
The Scottish collateral presentation deep dive (pause) uncoiling memory is commissioned by Creative Scotland, British Council Scotland, National Galleries of Scotland, Architecture and Design Scotland, V&A Dundee and the Scottish Government and production partners Dovecot Studios, Forma, and Glasgow Sculpture Studios. With additional production support from Glasgow Life, Art Night, and VIAD (Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre at University of Johannesburg). With further support from Arts Council England.
deep dive (pause) uncoiling memory
La Biennale di Venezia
23 April – 27 November 2022
Forma is proud to announce its partnership with Scotland + Venice as co-commissioner and producer of Alberta Whittle's new film Lagareh, which will premiere in Venice as part of Scotland’s collateral event at the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. The new film plays a central role in the artist’s solo exhibition deep dive (pause) uncoiling memory, which also includes a tapestry and sculptural elements. The artist’s Barbadian heritage will create a background for conversation and for exploring urgent themes from decolonisation to police brutality, sustainability and collective healing.
Alberta Whittle, who works from her Glasgow based studio, said:
“It’s all too easy to become apathetic and numb to all of the parallel histories being re-lived in our world today so I want my work to take that apathy and numbness and provide a space for people to feel. To be able to do that in such a historically rich environment as Venice allows me to explore conversations and historical stories through my commission.”
Forma’s role as co-commissioner and producer of Lagareh includes investing in the production and management of the film budget, supporting Alberta with research and curatorial development, planning film shoots across three continents and coordinating with the artist’s wide range of creative partners. In partnership with LUX Scotland, from late 2022, Alberta’s film work will tour cinemas across Scotland. Forma will lead on a subsequent international tour of the film.
Chris Rawcliffe, Artistic Director at Forma, says:
“I am proud and grateful that Forma could partner with Scotland + Venice to support Alberta Whittle with her new commission for the Venice Art Biennale. It has been an honour to join Alberta on this artistic journey and to take part in the research and production of this new ambitious film. Forma has worked with Alberta since 2020 when Frieze and Forma co-commissioned the film RESET as part of the Frieze Artist Award. The two years we have spent with Alberta and her many creative collaborators has helped us shape Forma and our understanding of what kind of organisation we want to be – collaborative, inclusive and caring.
Alberta's artistic research explores how centuries of oppression and violence towards black people continues to permeate contemporary British society through systemic racism and state violence. The new film battles against anti-blackness by exposing ongoing police brutality and calling out for radical change. It connects viewers with forgotten – and all too often ignored – histories of imperialism, violence and slavery, archival and documentary material, found footage from the Internet, filmed performances as well as intimate and personal moments in the artist’s life. The work, presented as an installation in the Scottish exhibition, creates space for audiences to pause and open up to some of these urgent issues. For many like myself, it is a place to learn and reflect on Alberta's ideas, for others it is also a place to connect with their ancestry and begin to heal.”
The exhibition in Venice will be presented at the Docks Cantieri Cucchini (S. Pietro di Castello, 40, 30122). The fully accessible space located between the main sites of La Biennale, the Giardini and Arsenale, was first used as a Scotland + Venice exhibition venue in 2019; it’s a befitting location for Whittle’s work which draws on her spiritual connection to water and the built environment as storytellers. Whittle comments:
“It was the water that really drew me to Scotland and throughout my work there is this calling to water as a body of art in and of itself. It’s a powerful medium by which histories are shared and in the film this becomes very apparent.”
The exhibition opens to the press on 20th April and to the public on 23rd April with supporting digital programming running on the Scotland + Venice website.
Alberta Whittle has been based in Scotland since moving here to study firstly at Edinburgh College of Art and later on the Master of Fine Arts programme at The Glasgow School of Art. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh and Research Associate at The University of Johannesburg.
Whittle was awarded a Turner Bursary, the Frieze Artist Award and a Henry Moore Foundation Artist Award in 2020. She was the Margaret Tait Award winner for 2018/19. Her 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, as well as by other private collections.
Selected solo exhibitions and presentations include: Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh (2021), Liverpool Biennale (2021), Art Night London (2021), British Art Show 9 – Aberdeen and Wolverhampton (2021–22), Glasgow International (2021), Glasgow International (2020), Grand Union, Birmingham (2020), Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee (2019), Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow (2019), The Tyburn Gallery, London (2019) and FADA Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa (2018).
Scotland + Venice Q&A with Chris Rawcliffe, Artistic Director at Forma
What are you most excited about for deep dive (pause) uncoiling memory?
As co-commissioners and producers of the film Lagareh, which is one of the key artworks presented in Alberta Whittle’s exhibition deep dive (pause) uncoiling memory, the Forma team is excited to see the audience’s reaction when they enter the space and watch the film. Working on this film has been a real labour of love for us over the past year. What I’m personally looking forward to is seeing how the film sits within the wider exhibition. Alberta and her partners at Glasgow Sculpture Studios created a series of large sculptures that are installed across the exhibition. One of these sculptures also includes a screen onto which Lagareh is projected. Through this act, Alberta has turned the film into a remarkable installation.
How has working with Alberta impacted you?
Forma started working with Alberta in 2020 on a film called RESET which was co-commissioned with Frieze London as part of the Frieze Artist Award. We went straight from RESET into the production of Lagareh in 2021, so the past two and half years of Forma’s development have really been informed by this relationship.
Alberta is incredibly collaborative and trusts the professionals and creatives that she encounters in her work. I think this inclusive, generous and trusting approach is what has had the biggest impact on Forma. We are evolving into a more open, inviting, collaborative and trusting organisation and I truly believe our connection to Alberta and her artistic, political and spiritual beliefs is making us a more attractive organisation to artists from all backgrounds.
Do you make intentional time to pause?
Unfortunately not at the moment!
Once the show opens the entire Forma team will be in Venice together to see the exhibition and make sure we enjoy the moment. Forma have teamed up with Jupiter Artland, an incredible arts organisation and sculpture park outside Edinburgh, to host a celebration for Alberta in Venice. Not quite a pause, but hopefully something to remember.
— Invest in Love: Alberta Whittle @ Venice Biennale (The Skinny, 9 May 2022)
— Of Rage, Grief, Hope, Healing, Love | In Conversation With Alberta Whittle (Griot Mag, 5 May 2022)
— Conquering Venice: A Celebration of British Art at This Year’s Biennale (Why Now, 3 May 2022)
— Why artist Alberta Whittle is imploring us to ‘invest in love’ (Dazed, 26 April 2022)
— On Sonia Boyce, Simone Leigh And Why The Venice Biennale Is A Win For Black Women (Elle, 26 April 2022)
— Eight Of The Best Collateral Events – 59th Venice Biennale – Lee Sharrock (Artlyst, 26 April 2022)
— What to see at the Venice Biennale, from Sonia Boyce to the Sami Pavilion (Evening Standard, 26 April 2022)
— Scotland + Venice presents Alberta Whittle and 'deep dive (pause) uncoiling memory' (Art Daily, 26 April 2022)
— Trunks, cosmic capers and sandbags for Ukraine: Venice Biennale 2022 – in pictures (The Guardian, 25 April 2022)
— Venice Biennale: Scots-Barbadian artist Alberta Whittle on her work confronting racism, colonial history and police brutality (The Scotsman, 25 April 2022)
— Venice Biennale: women outnumber male artists in main halls for first time (The Guardian, 22 April 2022)
— Venice show puts Scotland's 'slavery amnesia' in the frame (The Times, 20 April 2022)
— What Dreams May Come: Waking Up To Alberta Whittle (Elephant Magazine, 20 April 2022)
— Scottish pavilion: Alberta Whittle unravels Venice's often troubling relationship with Blackness (The Art NewspaperThe Art Newspaper, 11 April 2022)
Image: Alberta Whittle, Lagareh - The Last Born, (film still - single channel video), 2022, © Alberta Whittle. Courtesy of the artist, Scotland + Venice and Forma.