Work explores Miami’s political history of radical activism through the city’s urban and suburban landscapes.
MIAMI, FL – July 1, 2014 – In August, Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) will present the first museum survey of work by Miami-based, Haitian-born artist Adler Guerrier. Guerrier emerged to national attention as part of the groundbreaking 2001 exhibition Freestyle at the Studio Museum in Harlem, and as part of the Whitney Biennial in New York in 2008. PAMM’s milestone exhibition, Adler Guerrier: Formulating a Plot, on view from August 7, 2014 - January 25, 2015, traces the artist’s interest in urban history and social activism through a selection of 15 years of work including photographs, prints, videos and mixed-media installations alongside a new, architectural intervention. Nationally-recognized for his use and reinterpretation of cultural symbols, images and texts in objects ripe with social and political meaning, Guerrier documents moments—real and imagined—in metropolitan areas, including his home-city of Miami.
Miami has served as the focal point for many of Guerrier’s investigations, standing in for the 20th-century U.S. city. His work at once emphasizes the specificity of Miami’s neighborhoods and architecture, and the anonymity and indistinctness of many cityscapes. Taking on the role of the flâneur, or urban wanderer, Guerrier explores how economic, political and social upheavals manifest in the physicality of a place. Drawing on concepts and tools from across art history, architecture, cinema and literature, he creates visual narratives that evoke a sense of intimacy and temporality.
“Formulating a Plot offers our audiences an in-depth experience of Guerrier’s work, which provides a view into Miami as a city with a distinct character that relates to broader narratives of history,” said Thom Collins, PAMM’s director. “Miami is a vibrant, growing locale, and it is rare to have an opportunity to connect with the many changes it has undergone in the last two decades through the work of an artist that is so keenly attuned to the significance of those transformations.”
Formulating a Plot is organized around the chronology of Guerrier’s work and the recurring narrative themes of character, setting and plot, which manifest as: the flâneur (an undirected urban wanderer), the cityscape, and radical activism of the 1960s, all of which have become constant and guiding ideas within Guerrier’s practice. The title for the exhibition, Formulating a Plot, is derived from a transcript of a 1968 court case involving the radical black poet and writer, Amiri Baraka (1934-2014). Partly on the evidence of Baraka’s poem, “Black People!,” the judge accused him of being a “participant in formulating a plot” to incite violent civil unrest that swept Newark, New Jersey, during the summer of 1967—suggesting that his artistic practice was inherently, and illegally, incendiary. The phrase, and its variations, has appeared across Guerrier’s work, and in particular in a set of monochromatic, black-on-black sculptural protest signs (2007-ongoing) that examine the cultural turmoil of the late 1960s. The multiplicity of the word “plot” attests to Guerrier’s interest in exploring the multilayered nature of history and language.
“Guerrier’s work challenges our understanding of memory, both collective and individual, and highlights the intimacy with which we view environment, history and experience,” said Diana Nawi, the curator for the exhibition and PAMM Associate Curator. “Formulating a Plot is the first opportunity to look at the arc of Guerrier’s career and the themes that have pervaded his practice. It’s a pointed look at the transformation of urban spaces and the societal changes that activate those transitions.”
Highlights from the exhibition include:
- Untitled (Flâneur nyc-mia), 1999-2001: This series of 12 photographs was taken over the course of three years in Miami and New York. In these works, Guerrier records himself, often from behind and in relative anonymity, invoking and personifying the figure of the flâneur. His works simultaneously suggest and undermine the importance of this character in a sprawling contemporary metropolis.
- Untitled (BLCK-We wear the mask), 2007-08: This installation was featured in the 2008 Whitney Biennial and includes prints on paper, monochromatic protest sign-like sculptures, and photographs. For this project, Guerrier imagined a fictionalized, radical African American group, BLCK, based in Miami and created works under their name. This group and the objects Guerrier produced relating to them, reveal the artist’s interest in the relationship between urban environments and social and political histories.
- For the exhibition, Guerrier is creating a site-specific architectural intervention. Two walls, one solid and covered in a unique wallpaper of one of Guerrier’s photographs and one that is a wooden lattice referencing both Miami’s modernist architecture and the decorative cinder blocks used in construction for many of the city’s homes, will stand in the center of the space. This intervention continues the artist’s investigation of the interrelationship or art, architecture and landscape.
- Video Works, 1999-2009: A small, vintage television monitor placed on the ground will play a loop of Guerrier’s video work. A lesser-known aspect of the artist’s practice, the videos feature both original content and found footage. As in other two-dimensional series, Miami features heavily in the narratives (and non-narratives) of these works; much of the found footage documents the tumultuous history of U.S. politics and the civil rights movement in the late 1960s.
- Untitled (Loss/Entry/Return), 2005: A series of three photographs paired with three prints on paper, this work evidences Guerrier’s interest in printmaking and combining media in a single installation. The prints employ a simple printmaking technique to depict a figure poised on the lookout alongside drawings of box-like forms that give way to a related architectural structure rendered in black ink. Emerging from this form in one of the prints are collaged lines of text and descriptions of an event that become an abstracted poem. These elements of text, drawing, print, and collage come together to create a subtle work that uses image and language to suggest a larger narrative.
Adler Guerrier: Formulating a Plot is organized by Pérez Art Museum Miami Associate Curator Diana Nawi with support provided by Funding Arts Network, Inc. and Macy’s. A fully-illustrated, bilingual catalogue featuring essays by exhibition curator Diana Nawi and scholar Huey Copeland, as well as an interview between the artist and scholar Rebecca Zorach, will be published in November of this year.
About the Artist:
Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 1975, Guerrier moved to Miami with his family when he was twelve; he continues to live and work in Miami. He earned his BFA at the New World School of the Arts in Miami. He has previously exhibited at Miami Art Museum; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Tate Liverpool, England; and the Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach. His work can be found in the permanent collections of Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, and the Studio Museum in Harlem.
Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) promotes artistic expression and the exchange of ideas, advancing public knowledge and appreciation of art, architecture and design, and reflecting the diverse community of its pivotal geographic location at the crossroads of the Americas. A 29-year-old South Florida institution formerly known as Miami Art Museum (MAM), Pérez Art Museum Miami opened a new building, designed by world-renowned architects Herzog & de Meuron, in Downtown Miami’s Museum Park on December 4, 2013. The facility and is a state-of-the-art model for sustainable museum design and progressive programming and features 200,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor program space with flexible galleries; shaded outdoor verandas; a waterfront restaurant and bar; a museum shop; and an education center with a library, media lab and classroom spaces. For more information, please visit www.pamm.org, find us on Facebook (facebook.com/perezartmuseummiami), or follow us on Twitter (@pamm).
Related Programs and Events
Thursday, August 7, 2014, 6-9pm
Preview Adler Guerrier: Formulating a Plot, the artist’s first, solo museum exhibition; enjoy entertainment and cocktails on the terrace (for purchase); and hear a conversation between the artist, Adler Guerrier, and exhibition curator, Diana Nawi*.
Conversation with Adler Guerrier and Associate Curator Diana Nawi
Thursday, August 7, 2014, 7-8pm (seating begins 6:30pm)
*Space is limited. First come, first seated.
Surveying 15 years of work across diverse media, the exhibition, Adler Guerrier: Formulating a Plot, considers the central themes and concerns of Guerrier’s practice. Guerrier and Nawi will discuss a breadth of topics reflected in the exhibition, including the artist’s interest in Miami’s history, the legacy of the 1960s, and the influence of cinema and literature on his practice. PAMM is free every first Thursday of the month. Free first Thursdays is made possible in part with support provided by Knight Foundation.
**Please note that on-site parking options are expected to reach capacity early due to high attendance projections. Please consider taking the free Metromover. For downtown Miami parking options, visit Miamiparking.com. Overflow parking at Omni: $10/3 hours with PAMM validation (take Metromover 1 stop or walk four blocks)