in Frieze London | 10 OCT 23

Alberta Whittle, ‘A Black footprint is a beautiful thing’

A film that champions the shipworm, a tiny marine creature that ate away at the vessels involved in the Atlantic slave trade

in Frieze London | 10 OCT 23

Alberta Whittle   

A Black footprint is a beautiful thing   

2021, 11 min 30 sec  

In A Black footprint is a beautiful thing (2021), Alberta Whittle critically engages with the legacy of colonialism through a nuanced exploration of the shipworm. Whittle casts this seemingly insignificant marine organism as a subversive figure in history, conceptualizing it as a decolonial agent that inadvertently thwarted the progress of European imperialism by consuming the wooden structures of ships deployed in the colonization of the Caribbean. This thoughtful exploration, deeply rooted in the artist’s personal familial connection to the Caribbean, seeks to understand the potential sensuality and pleasure derived by the shipworm in its destructive actions. The project extols these small creatures, emphasising their unanticipated role as agents of anti-colonial resistance, ultimately emerging as potent symbols of grassroots power and resistance in the historical narrative.  

About Alberta Whittle 

Alberta Whittle (b. 1980, Bridgetown). Whittle’s multifaceted practice is preoccupied with developing a personal response to the legacies of the Atlantic slave trade, unpicking its connections to institutional racism, white supremacy and climate emergency in the present. Against an oppressive political background Whittle aims to foreground hope and engage with different forms of resistance. Whittle represented Scotland in the 59th Venice Biennale and is a 2022 recipient of the Paul Hamlyn Awards for Artists. In 2020, she was awarded a Turner Bursary and the Frieze Artist Award. She was the Margaret Tait Award winner for 2018/19. Whittle recently presented a solo exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and currently has a major solo exhibition on display at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One), Edinburgh. 

Alberta Whittle, A Black footprint is a beautiful thing, 2021, 11 min 30 sec. Courtesy of the Artist and The Modern Institute/ Toby Webster Ltd., Glasgow


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