We are launching our 2020 Empire Remains Shop–Birmingham programme with a new commission by Alberta Whittle at Junction Works.
This new commission, No Mudder Country Here, is a hand-painted billboard on the side of Junction Works, viewable 24/7 by passersby. There is also a light installation visible from the windows of the building, featuring subtle transitions over the course of an hour.
Alberta uses visual, textual and spoken language in her interdisciplinary practice as a way to challenge and interrogate constructed representations of history and society. Alberta’s ongoing research refers to the legacy of colonialism, particularly the Windrush scandal, and the hostile implications of this for migrants in a contemporary political context. Her creative practice is motivated by the desire to work collectively towards radical self-love. Informed by diasporic conversations, Alberta considers radical self-love and collective care key methods in battling anti-blackness. Her practice involves choreographing interactive installations, using film, sculpture and performance as site-specific artworks in public and private spaces.
Alberta Whittle is an artist, researcher and curator. She was a RAW Academie Fellow at RAW Material in Dakar in 2018 and is the Margaret Tait Award winner for 2018/9. She is a Committee Member at Transmission Gallery in Glasgow and a Board Member of SCAN (Scottish Creative Art Network).
Who is a stranger?
This question of strangeness keeps me alert.
Increasingly attentive to signs, some silent, some like sirens completely deafening, strangeness sticks and can end in violence. An aura of fear can stick to the foreigner, binding them to an uncertain fate where respectability can seem like the only refuge.
But what does refuge look like?
Is refuge possible in the hostile environment?
Buzzwords veiling intolerance with platitudes claiming tolerance, multiculturalism, rainbow nations and melting pots tear under this spreading hostile environment. It thrives on amplifying the perceived threat of the strange, the foreign, the Other.
And now, the stain of foreignness will not be camouflaged.
Migrants, first generations, second and third, mummies, daddies, uncles, aunts, grannies and grandads are in real danger. Respectability politics can no longer protect, silence, absolve or hide black and brownness.
Respectability may never be achieved.
Perhaps it was always an impossible dream.
Text written by Alberta Whittle