Work by an Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) PhD candidate has become part of the University of Edinburgh's Contemporary Art Research Collection (CARC).

business as usual: hostile environment is the work of Alberta Whittle (b.1980 Barbados), who is also an ECA BA graduate. A moving image work, it looks at the colonial history of the Forth and Clyde canal and waterways' role in forced and unforced migration. Reflecting on waterways as sites of renewal and regeneration – the work focuses attention on how the architecture of the city continues to shape and impact communities, and understandings of austerity, poverty, race and class.

CARC has acquired two versions of the work; the first produced in April 2020 as an urgent, powerful and fast response to the developing pandemic, and the second longer version completed in June 2021 (titled business as usual: hostile environment (a remix)). The second edit builds on the focus of the first, including the exploration of the disproportionate number of Covid-19 related deaths among people of colour. As with all of Alberta’s work, the videos are a compelling reminder of the recurring inequality and racism existing in Britain surrounding health, race and migration.

Alberta is a current PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh and her research is concerned with individuals’ roles in perpetuating the systems of oppression existing in society by turning a blind eye to their existence. Her work usually takes the form of interactive installations which use film, sculpture and performance to consider contested histories, climate colonialism, trauma and healing.

On the acquisition, Whittle said, "As an ECA alumni and current student, being part of the  CARC collection signifies a form of return to a space of critical learning in my education but also a claiming of space."

business as usual: hostile environment  was commissioned by Glasgow Sculpture Studios and produced through partnerships with Glasgow International, Maryhill Integration Network, GCAN, Forth & Clyde Canal Society and Canal Craft. It was presented as part of Glasgow International 2021 and joins other print-based works by Alberta already held within the CARC.

A core component of the University’s Art Collection, the CARC was established in 2015 in partnership with academics in the History of Art department. This facet of the collection takes globalisation as its central theme, setting a specific focus on women's experience and the contribution of feminist thought.

business as usual: hostile environment (a remix), as well as other works by Whittle held within the CARC, feature in an exhibition at the Glasgow Women’s Library.

Titled Life Support: Forms of Care in Art and Activism the show - which is co-curated by Dr Kirsten Lloyd, Programme Director for the MSc by Research Collections and Curating Practices at ECA, along with Caroline Gausden, Dr Nat Raha and Catherine Spencer - explores how artists, activists and archives have addressed and challenged our understanding of care across health, education, housing and home life - from the 1970s to the present day. As the Glasgow Women’s Library celebrates its 30th birthday, this group show takes over the building, bringing together new artworks, rarely seen archival materials and large scale installations.

Life Support runs from Saturday 14th August – Saturday 16th October, 2021


Are you interested in studying Art - PhD/MPhil at Edinburgh College of Art?



Related people