Alberta Whittle’s practice aims to develop a visual, oral and textual language to question accepted Western constructs of history and society. Her work frequently reflects on the legacies of slavery, colonialism and the current climate crisis. She connects black oppression with meditations on survival, championing the idea of healing as a form of self-liberation.
At the time Whittle began making between a whisper and a cry, 2019, the Caribbean had experienced three consecutive years of devastating hurricanes and storms. The artist was struck by how people she spoke to in the UK responded apathetically to this global notion of instability, and hoped to open up conversations about what was happening in the Caribbean communities of which she is part. The work speaks of memory, trauma and tensions between the land, the sea and the weather, revealing the precarity and privilege of geography. It explores theorist Christina Sharpe’s characterisation, in her book In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, of ‘the weather’ as an ‘anti-black atmosphere’ in which we all live. The soundtrack and visuals seek to evoke the feeling of being caught and submerged within a wave, asking us to consider our bodies as falling beneath the threshold, and how we can come up for air when the current is dragging us under.
between a whisper and a cry was commissioned for the 2018/19 Margaret Tait Award.
- Artwork Details: running time: 41 minutes
- Material description: HD video, chairs, chain and screen
- Credit line: © the artist. Image courtesy of the artist
- Accession number: ACC27/2019