Hi, I’m Kameelah Janan Rasheed, I’m an artist based in Brooklyn, NY, originally from East Palo Alto, CA.
So when I was a kid I often got in trouble for being distracted in class because I decided that what the teacher was teaching wasn’t as interesting as what I could curiously fall into and so throughout schooling even though I did well I was always sort of berated for that. And a couple of years ago I came across an interview between Octavia Butler and Sam Delany at MIT where he’s asking her questions about literacy and hypertext. And she goes on to explain that she doesn’t really do something called internet hypertext, but she believes in something called privative hypertext, which is when she’s trying to process ideas and make sense of things she’s reading a couple books, she’s gardening, and letting her mind kind of drift and allowing herself to be distracted and going off on tangents. That really resonated with me and validated everything that I felt like [laughs] I’d been berated about and so in a lot of ways I think about information and education as sort of building an ecosystem between preexisting ideas and the new ideas that you sort of acquire along the way by curiously indulging in different things. So ecosystems is supposed to be an actual environment that you’re walking into, things already exist there but as you go through the exhibition and installation, and text you’re also building your ecosystem, creating greater complexity of the ideas that you’re thinking about, removing things, adding things, but really thinking about relationships between ideas.
The visual piece that’s on the wall is a collection I think of 16 individual pieces. And I, in 2015, had a residency at the lower east side print shop; when I ended I still wanted to do printmaking but did not have $4000 for an etching press so I bought a Xerox machine. So I’ve been working with a Xerox machine for the past three years now, thinking about the Xerox machine is a tool to do a lot of printmaking techniques. So everything that’s on the wall with the exception of the fabric pieces is produced through different scores that I perform on a photocopier and digitizing those pieces and then composing them in adobe illustrator or adobe Photoshop. For me the Xerox machine is important as a tool that is super accessible to anyone and everyone; you can make a copy for 9 or 12 cents. But also thinking about the history of Xerox machines in radical movements as a way to help disseminate stories and histories and narratives that would otherwise would not be widely disseminated. So I like the aesthetic quality of the photocopier but I also like the social history of the photocopier. And so what I arranged on the wall is literally an ecosystem of overlapping text and images that allude to this opportunity to go in and out and to create relationships. So nothing is arranged in a linear line at the museum eye line but everything is arranged high and low and in the middle of things that are upside-down. And other opportunities for you to sort of subvert the way you traditionally read a visual text, but also the way you read exhibition environment.