Artist Spotlight: Kameelah Janan Rasheed & The Edge of Legibility
SFARTS and Art21's continued partnership exploring the influence of Bay Area artists, this month features artist Kameelah Janan Rasheed
Renowned text-based, Palo Alto-born artist Kameelah Janan Rasheed possesses a unique fascination with the written word, recognizing its dual capacity to define and disrupt our perceptions of the world. Rasheed employs an intriguing process, photocopying pages from books and printed materials, selectively cutting out words and sentences, and then skillfully rearranging them into poetic and provocative combinations. The outcome takes the form of wall collages, billboards, films, and public installations.
Art21’s "New York Close Up" film, “Kameelah Janan Rasheed: The Edge of Legibility,” explores Rasheed’s expansive ideas and process in her book-filled Brooklyn studio. “I think a lot about what it actually means to make myself legible,” says the artist. “How you present yourself to the world that’s legible and appealing to people, versus I’m not gonna make myself known until I’m ready.” Directed by filmmaker Carrie Hawks, the film’s exclusively close-up style mirrors Rasheed’s own preoccupation with fragments, slowly building up a portrait over time.
Production still from the Art21 "New York Close Up" film, "Kameelah Janan Rasheed: The Edge of Legibility." © Art21, Inc. 2021
Rasheed delves into the examination of text’s appearance and legibility through various creative mediums. Her work explores the complexities and nuances in the context of Black subjectivity, offering a unique lens through which to contemplate and understand the interplay of words and identity.
Rasheed’s work is featured in two January exhibitions – “in the coherence, we weep” at the KW Institute of Contemporary Art in Berlin and “Unsewn Time” at The Art Institute of Chicago.
Art21 has two films in the San Francisco Independent Film Festival taking place February 9-15 at the Roxie Theater. The “Bodies of Knowledge” episode segment featuring Tauba Auerbach will be screened as part of the “Bay Area True Tales” short film program on Saturday, February 10, 20204 at 2:15pm PST. “Shahzia Sikander: Melting Boundaries” will be screened with the feature film “Modernism, Inc.” on Tuesday, February 13 at 6:30pm.
Learn more about Art21 at art21.org and across social media at @art21.