Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Participatory Art Project on Learning, Unlearning, and Play, Haverford College
Last spring, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, as part of her Katowitz Radin residency at the Brooklyn Public Library, orchestrated a sprawling 120-foot site-specific text mural and interactive public art experience at its central branch on Grand Army Plaza. The project, known as Scoring the Stacks, invited visitors to explore wandering as a mode of learning by performing a set of instructions contained in a series of “scores” that, rather than depicting musical notes to follow, featured directions for language-based actions that could be taken throughout the space. For example, participants were invited to “Find a blue book. Read the last page and write down a word you’d like to use in a future conversation” and record their findings on carbon paper. Using the carbon copies of participant’s notations, a series of public programming in collaboration with artists Morgan Bassichis, An Duplan, and Brass Burlesque, led participants in the transformation of these notations into poems, songs, and dance movements.
Now Rasheed is undertaking her second experiment in this ongoing series at Haverford College’s newly renovated and renamed Lutnick Library. Scoring the Stacks (Experiment II) will turn Haverford College’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery into a satellite of Lutnick Library, offering visitors space for their own research, reflection, experimentation, and collaboration inspired by an installation of Rasheed’s recent work. Viewers will be invited to use a new set of scores to explore chance-based pathways through the library, gallery, arboretum, and other institutional spaces and collections as a way to encounter new ideas and build relationships between seemingly unconnected concepts.
Scoring the Stacks (Experiment II) likeits first iteration, gains its momentum from the concept of “primitive hypertext”—a term coined by Black science-fiction writer Octavia Butler, who has described it as a learning ethos attentive to the possibilities of a meandering, non-linear, associative, and agile process of making sense of the world. To engage in an act of “primitive hypertext” is to seek out opportunities to map generative relationships between wide-ranging ideas, words, objects, and experiences.
Rasheed, a former high school history teacher, is interested in how people learn and the role of wandering, de-accelerating, and nurturing tangential connections in building a radical ethos of learning that prioritizes process over product. As such, her scores “encourage visitors to wander, to slow down, and to learn by discovery,” as she told Artforum. Prints of her recent work will be on display in the gallery, but the exhibit is experienced in the “performances” of its 10 scores in the library and across campus. The finished, notated scores will be collected and reassembled in a book created by Rasheed and released towards the end of the exhibit’s eight-week engagement on campus.
Kameelah Janan Rasheed is a Brooklyn-based artist and learner from East Palo Alto. Her sprawling inquiry has led her to develop work that explores experimental poetry, reference texts, intimate intertextuality, techniques of non-institutional archiving, anecdotes of religious syncretism, histories of human as well as non-human communication methods, enclosure systems, and ecological studies. Rasheed makes her inquiries visible through an ecosystem of iterative and provisional projects including sprawling, Xerox-based “architecturally-scaled collages” (frieze magazine, winter 2018); interactive publications; large-scale text banner installations; digital archives; lecture-performances; library interventions; poems/poetic gestures; and other forms yet to be determined. Rasheed has exhibited at the 2017 Venice Biennale, ICA Philadelphia, Pinchuk Art Center, Brooklyn Museum, Queens Museum, New Museum, Studio Museum in Harlem, Bronx Museum, Brooklyn Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and The Kitchen, among others. She is the author of two artist books, An Alphabetical Accumulation of Approximate Observations (Endless Editions, 2019) and No New Theories (Printed Matter, forthcoming 2019).
Scoring the Stacks (Experiment II) will be on view Oct. 25 through Dec. 15 at Haverford College’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery and Lutnick Library. Join us for an artist’s talk and opening reception Friday, Oct. 25, from 4:30–7:30 p.m. at Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery. A book release and discussion will be held Wednesday, Dec. 4, at 4:30 p.m. in Lutnick Library 200. For further details: exhibits.haverford.edu/scoringthestacks.
Scoring the Stacks was conceived by Kameelah Janan Rasheed in its first iteration at the Brooklyn Public Library, curated by Cora Fisher. This is the second experiment in the artist’s ongoing series. Support for the exhibition and programs is provided by the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities and Haverford College Libraries.
Overseen by the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities and located in Whitehead Campus Center, the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery is open Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Wednesdays until 8 p.m. For more information, contact Matthew Seamus Callinan, associate director of the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, VCAM, and campus exhibitions, at (610) 896-1287 or email@example.com, or visit the exhibitions program website: www.haverford.edu/exhibits.
Haverford College is located at 370 Lancaster Avenue, Haverford, Pa., 19041.
Thank you to Rebecca Raber for the content of this post.
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