My name is Kameelah Janan Rasheed (b. 1985, East Palo Alto, CA). I am a learner and interdisciplinary artist who seeks to make my thinking (somewhat) visible through an ecosystem of iterative, provisional projects as well as experiments. This includes sprawling xerox-based “architecturally-scaled collages” (Frieze Magazine, Winter 2018), publications, large-scale text banner installations, digital archives, lecture performances, library interventions, poems/poetic gestures, stand up comedy, and other forms yet to be determined. With knowledge production as a core interest, I explore shifting epistemological frameworks, or the ways Black folks develop syncretic, experimental, and transdisciplinary ways of knowing, narrating this knowing, or opting to refuse disclosure of this knowing. In my work, I look to experimental poetry, examples of intimate intertextuality, literacy, non-institutional archival modes, anecdotes of syncretism, histories of human as well as non-human communication systems, and ecological studies as languages. My practice considers the processes of mistranslation - misreading- mispronunciation, modes of learning/unlearning, contingency, velocity, the instability of meaning, and the futility of comprehensive knowing. In both the creation and dissemination of my work, I am invested in engaging with, but not resolving the tensions between liquid states and solid states. That is to say, the tensions between moments of opaqueness and moments of transparency. Or to say it another way, the tensions between moments of leakiness where histories elaborate beyond prescriptive perimeters and moments of containment where histories are hemmed in by convenient narrative arcs.
My evolving body of work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at the 2017 Venice Biennale, Institute of Contemporary Art - Philadelphia, Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, Brooklyn Museum, Queens Museum, Bronx Museum, New Museum, Studio Museum in Harlem, Printed Matter, The Kitchen, Jack Shainman Gallery, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Project Row Houses, Pinchuk Art Centre, and others.
In 2016, I created Mapping the Spirit, which documents the texture of spiritual life amongst people of Black people in the United States through a digital archive including photographs, video, interviews and ephemera. In 2018, I founded Primitive Hypertext Lab (after Octavia Butler), an agile pedagogical project that nurtures a learning ethos that honors slowness, tangents, interdisciplinary relationships, and non-hierarchical modes of knowledge production and dissemination. The Lab hosts workshops, houses archives of Black printed matter and Black vernacular photographs, as well as publishes an annual broadsheet entitled 18: Leaks.
I am the author of three artist books published in 2019, An Alphabetical Accumulation of Approximate Observations (Endless Editions), No New Theories (Printed Matter), and Scoring the Stacks (Brooklyn Public Library).