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Kameelah Janan Rasheed: all velvet sentences as manifesto, Like a lesson against smooth language or an invitation to be feral hypertext.

Kameelah Janan Rasheed, keeping count, Annotated, animation still, 2021-2023

January 23 @ 12:00 pm March 23 @ 6:00 pm

The multimedia site-specific installation combines new video drafts and existing video works from the last three years. All created using some form of a writing and video editing constraint, these works live alongside several 2D works also created using constraints to explore the agility and limitations of language. With an investment in Black experimental poetics, non-linear cosmologies, and fugivity, Rasheed asks, “What can be captured through writing? What is lost? And how can this inevitable loss be an invitation to consider other modes of communication? Rasheed incorporates abstract shapes, gestures, and markings that border visual glossolalia and asemics. She presents these work alongside diagrammatic compositions of letters (Latin and Arabic) diacritics, and fragments of annotation. 

In this temporary gathering of objects and ideas, Rasheed engages in intervals of self-study to explore her relationship to the widely respected poet Lucille Clifton’s legacy of spirit writing and other “wayward” methods of writing. With particular attention to Clifton’s poem “i was born with twelve fingers,” this exhibition considers the “powerful memories of ghosts” that emerge during these less traditional writing practices. Overall, the project explores writing constraints to generate more feral and intuitive writing. Rasheed writes, “Lucille Clifton’s spirit writing and self-description as a ‘two-headed woman’ piqued my interest in writing as a sacred, trickster, and fugitive ritual.”

Rasheed thinks conceptually about text, type, and printed matter and uses publishing as a platform to engage and enlarge conversations with others. Her work invites important questions about the materiality of text, such as, “What is the shape of a failed sentence?” or even to quote Fred Moten speaking to the work of Renee Gladman, “Is there an underground railroad in the sentence?” These questions are central to the artist’s practice. This exhibition is accompanied by a lecture performance and a reader created under Rasheed’s publishing project Scratch Disks Full.

Exhibition Events:

  • Satellite workshop, John Hopkins University – If, Then: Technology and Poetics, Friday, January 19, 2024 [zoom] 1:30- 3:30pm. Location: Zoom
  • Artist Reception,Tuesday, January 23, 2024, 5-7pm. Location: Media Art Gallery, 25 Avery Street, Boston, MA.
  • Writing With Word Games, a text score workshop, Friday, February 24, 2-4pm. Registration required. Location: Media Art Gallery, 25 Avery Street, Boston, MA.
  • Lecture/Performance with Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Tuesday, February 27, 2024 at 6-7:30pm. Registration required. Location: Walker Building, Room 202. 120 Boylston Street, Boston, MA.
  • Book Launch, Tuesday, February 27, 8pm. Attendees will receive a complimentary copy of the Scratch Disk Full publication. Location: Media Art Gallery, 25 Avery Street, Boston, MA. 
  • Curator Talk by Dr. Leonie Bradbury, Saturday, March 23, 2024, 2-3pm. Location: Media Art Gallery, 25 Avery Street, Boston, MA.