“Adler Guerrier: Formulating a Plot” is the first museum survey of work by this Haitian-born, Miami-based artist. With a title referring to a famed 1968 court case in which poet Amiri Baraka was accused of being a “participant in formulating a plot” to ignite the Newark, New Jersey, race riots of 1967, the exhibition—indebted to the Situationist concept of psychogeography—explores the ways that the urban landscape shapes identity and is itself configured in turn by societal change.
Guerrier’s intricate installation Untitled (BLCK-We wear the mask), 2007–8, combines prints and photographs with sculptures resembling protest signs, all purportedly made by a fictional group of radical African American artists based in Miami. The photographic series “Orchids and Boutonnieres” (2010), titled after the 1960s society section in the African American newspaper Miami Times, combines contemporary images of Miami locations with abstract shapes suggesting stains. Thus the pictures appear both current and awash with residues of the past.
Weaving together this array of work is the image of the urban wanderer, or flaneur. Untitled (Flâneur nyc-mia), 1999–2001, is a group of photographs taken in Miami and New York recording Guerrier’s unobtrusive presence in both cities and summing up his concern with race, place, and the role of the artist.
A version of this story originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of ARTnews on page 122.