Adler Guerrier: Formulating a Plot is the first museum survey of work by Miami-based, Haitian-born artist Adler Guerrier. The exhibition 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.”
The exhibition is organized around the chronology of Guerrier’s work and the recurring narrative themes of character, setting and plot, which manifest as: the flâneur, 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.”