Born 1975 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti; lives in Miami, Florida
Deploying a variety of media including photography, drawing, and video, Adler Guerrier explores the effects of particular geographical, political, and historical environments on identity formation. Combining the techniques of photographic observation with a studio art practice and urban wanderings, the artist maps the places of everyday life with lyrical resonance. Considering walking to be “a political and poetic act,” Guerrier takes to the streets, capturing images of desolate urban spaces washed in a nocturnal glow and taking pictures of private backyards saturated with vernal colors; he also makes cryptic drawings of himself frequently accompanied by poetic texts such as “playing scratchy records” and “concerted action.” Relating his work— typically arranged in groupings—to the fleeting observations of a contemporary wandering flaneur, the artist notes, “My work has to do with movement, narrative, and is also concerned with the perceived and fictional portrayal of places.”
Guerrier’s gambit in untitled (BLCK—We wear the mask) (2007–08) is to present an installation by “BLCK,” a fictional Miami-based artist collaborative from 1968 (all the works are actually by Guerrier). Pointedly local in time, place, and scope, Guerrier takes up the social, political, and aesthetic dialogue of these nameless artists from the once-vital Liberty City, a mostly black neighborhood of Miami that suffered in the aftermath of riots coinciding with the 1968 Republican National Convention in nearby Miami Beach. Deploying an array of materials—curtains, drawings, spurious “documentary” photographs, and video—he explores the imagined imagery and imaged imaginary of fictional artists whose work was grounded in realities of social protest. Signaling themes of political resistance, a hand-painted sign reads “Welcome to Liberty City in this year of 1968,” while a projected film takes up the themes of a then-contemporary short story by LeRoi Jones (later known as Amiri Baraka), the influential African-American poet arrested in Newark, New Jersey, in April that year during riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Finding messages for the present in the scars of the past, this installation, according to the artist, “does not pay homage to great 1960s heroes, but rather to anonymous artists who were aware of the civil rights movement and politics of the time and contributed positively.” Blurring distinctions between fiction and fact, past and present, Guerrier’s psychogeography of a distant Miami neighborhood is strikingly near and contemporary. TODD ALDEN
Adler Guerrier, Untitled (flaneur nyc/mia), 1999-2001 (detail). Twelve chromogenic prints, 8 x 10 in. (20.3 x 25.4 cm) each. Collection of the artist.