Kameelah Janan Rasheed
born 1985, East Palo Alto, CA
lives in Brooklyn
Artist Kameelah Janan Rasheed identifies emphatically as a “learner.” In her practice across disciplines, Rasheed embodies a polymathic, collaborative approach that can take multiple formats depending on the context and additional participants. For FRONT 2022, Rasheed is completing a community-developed installation, What would happen if this sentence never ended?, with students at Cleveland Public Library’s East 131st St. Street branch in the Corlett neighborhood. This hanging installation, which will be installed at the library’s newly constructed Hough Branch, has been developed through an iterative process that allows the students to realize their concepts as full artistic partners.
Her work at Transformer Station, a hand-painted large-scale text on the wall with lettering derived from found sources, is the latest version of an ongoing work that began in 2020 at an online gathering for FRONT. The artist asked audience members to type four words into the chat, to be sourced from “any text near you”: books, phone messages, an email. After polling participants on what to do with the texts, she fulfilled their chosen request: “describe what the world will be like in twenty years.”
This method of evolving works from one context to the next with the input of others is characteristic of Rasheed’s process, which often repurposes the logic of algorithms and games. Rasheed says: “In my practice, I grapple with the poetics and politics of the unfinished: ecologies of Black living, Black textual production, Black utterances, and Black spiritualities. I stay attuned to generative and interdependent methodologies of Black storytelling... that challenge enclosure and fixed relationality.”
Kameelah Janan Rasheed, What would happen if this sentence never ended?, 2022, Commissioned by FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art with support from The Joyce Foundation, the LeRoy Neiman and Janet Byrne Neiman Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Ohio Arts Council, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, and The Edwin D. Northrup II Fund, PNC Charitable Trust and in partnership with Cleveland Public Library.
Photo by Field Studio.