A museum centered on Art + Education + Social Justice through the lens of Africa + the diaspora

Kameelah Janan Rasheed | How to Suffer Politely (and Other Etiquette)

Curated by: James E. Bartlett & Kameelah Janan Rasheed
Dates: October 17, 2015-January 17, 2016
Location: Exterior Gallery @ 80 Hanson Place


This exhibtion was supported in part by public funds from The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) in partnership with The City Council, and private funds from Lambent Foundation and Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.


HOW TO SUFFER POLITELY (and Other Etiquette) is a large format print series by Brooklyn-based artist Kameelah Janan Rasheed that examines how expressions of anger and resistance to racialized violence are regarded as “impolite” in order to maintain social order. Informed by etiquette guides that advise one to prioritize the needs of others before one’s own, these satirical sayings command the performance of exceptional self-control under traumatic circumstances. In the wake of recent uprisings in Baltimore, Ferguson, and beyond, this series considers the inappropriateness of respectability in a state of emergency.

“In 1998, my family was displaced and we became homeless. For ten years, our bodies and memories were fragmented across shelters, motels and the homes of relatives. At 12, I began the compulsive collection of material fragments and negotiated the paralyzing anxiety of feeling unable to synthesize these collected pieces.The collusion between these compulsive tendencies toward mining the archives and the anxiety of creating meaning from the fragments drives my artistic product and process. The spatial trauma of homelessness not only dissembles, displaces, and disperses the physical body; it also dislocates a body of both collective and personal memories that anchored and contextualized lives. Enlisting archival impulses and archaeological practices to experiment with materials and processes in my exploration of the slippages between collective and personal memory, my work is concerned with making sense of the fragments, the historical residue, the excess and the marginalia. As an artist archivist, my work reckons with the complexity of memory, ritual, historiography, and archival practices as they relate to the construction of both personal and social histories. In my interdisciplinary and research based studio practice, I work with found objects, textual fragments, orphaned audio, and other historical residue excavated from sources ranging from flea markets to institutional archives to dumpsters toeBay. These excavated objects operate as ghosts—the past showing up in the present refusing to leave and begging for another temporal stage on which to perform. Haunted by these displaced objects, I create archival installations, prose, conceptual poems, text-based prints, photographs, audio mixes, and public programming that consider the archive as a site of agency to explore our active and passive roles in both the production and consumption of hermetic private histories and larger public histories. I am interested in the mining and historical research process as art product as well as the ways juxtaposition, appropriation and repurposing of existing material culture is a means by which to choreograph new narrative possibilities, to reveal temporal glitches, and to explore new ways of reading, writing and troubling histories.” -Kameelah Janan Rasheed




Kameelah Janan Rasheed (b.1985) is a Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist, writer, and former public high school teacher from East Palo Alto, CA.

Rasheed’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Her work has been presented at the 2017 Venice Biennale, Institute of Contemporary Art – Philadelphia, Printed Matter, Jack Shainman Gallery, Studio Museum in Harlem, Bronx Museum, Queens Museum, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Pinchuk Art Centre, and others. Her work has been written about Artforum, Guernica Magazine, The New York Times, Art 21, Wall Street Journal, and ArtSlant.

Recently shortlisted for the Future Generation Art Prize in 2017, she is the recipient of several other awards and honors including the Denniston Hill Artist Residency (2017), The Laundromat Project Alumni Award for Art in Community (2017), Harpo Foundation Grant (2016), Magnum Foundation Grant (2016), Creative Exchange Lab at the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art Residency (2016), Smack Mellon Studio Residency (2016), Triple Canopy Commission at New York Public Library Labs (2015), Lower East Side Printshop Keyholder Residency (2015), A.I.R. Gallery Fellowship (2015), Queens Museum Jerome Emerging Artist Fellowship (2015), New York Artadia Grant (2015), Bronx AIM Fellowship (2015), Process Space Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Residency (2015), Art Matters Grant (2014), Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant (2014), Center for Book Arts Residency (2013), The Laundromat Project Create Change Fellowship (2013), Center for Photography at Woodstock Residency (2012), among others. Rasheed is the founder of Mapping the Spirit, a digital archive that documents the textures and nuance of Black religious experience in the United States through longform interviews, photography, video, and ephemera. She is the author of a forthcoming artist book published by Printed Matter.

She is on the faculty of the MFA Fine Arts program at the School of Visual Arts and also works full-time as a social studies curriculum developer for New York public schools. A 2006 Amy Biehl Fulbright Scholar to South Africa, she holds a BA in Public Policy and Africana Studies from Pomona College (2006) and an M.A. in Secondary Education from Stanford University (2008).





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