Alberta Whittle: RESET
- Susan Mansfield
- 3 August 2021
Collaborative explorations dominate this powerful Edinburgh Art Festival film and sound installation
Just as Black Lives Matter protests were igniting around the world, Alberta Whittle learned she had won the Frieze Artist Award. RESET, the film she made as a result, now takes centre stage in a new body of work for Jupiter Artland. Whittle, who received a Tate bursary in lieu of the 2020 Turner Prize and will represent Scotland at next year's Venice Biennale, continues to work with themes of race, history and the legacies of colonialism. RESET, however, is a reflection of her thinking in the summer of last year as the pandemic raged and she was stranded in Barbados many miles from her friends and collaborators.
Partly shot in Scotland by a group of like-minded artists and performers, it came from a longing for community in a time of enforced distance, and foregrounds the work of those she calls her 'accomplices', including writer Ama Josephine Budge, animator Anushka Naanayakkara and three female performers: Sekai Machache, Christian Noelle Charles and Mele Broomes. Footage from Scotland, South Africa and Barbados is collaged together in a patchwork of moods: there is mourning and ululation, a flare of anger (film of police turning on Black Lives Matter demonstrators), a poetic meditation on female sensual energy. While it is propelled along by Yves B Golden's hypnotic soundtrack, the narrative journey is carried by dancer Broomes, from a kind of exhausted stasis through to a display of strength and empowerment.
Always mindful of how her films are presented, Whittle has turned the ballroom at Bonnington House into a version of a Caribbean beach. Meanwhile, at the doocot in the garden, a sound installation features the words of Barbadian poet Kamau Brathwaite; this is a more private space which allows room for exploring feelings of loss in a year which has been full of them. Jupiter's Steading Galleries are given over to a group show of work by these accomplices, proving that while Alberta Whittle is a rising star, she wants to make sure there is space in the firmament for others.
Alberta Whittle: RESET, Jupiter Artland, until Sunday 31 October, 10am–5pm, £10 (£5–£9); advance booking required.