Exhibitions - Catalyst

Meredith James, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, and Casey Tang make work that sheds light on personal and cultural forces—perception, record-keeping, vernacular belief—that drive the formation of individual and collective narratives.

Working in video, sculpture, and theater, Meredith James (b. 1982, New York, NY) explores mechanisms of perception, and the fallibility of observation.  Elaborately crafted and playfully executed, her work reveals surprising and disorienting dimensions of the way we see the world around us. Kameelah Janan Rasheed (b.1985, East Palo Alto, CA) is an artist-archivist who works in the space between visual and literary arts to explore how we construct narratives around our personal and social histories. Working with found and original materials, she creates zines and books as well as archive-like installations that map conversations between texts, ephemera, personal memorabilia, and photography. Casey Tang (b. 1984, New York, NY) engages and explores diverse disciplines including ecology, musicology, and narratology in his pursuit of various cultural norms within and outside of western worldviews. Through geographic and chronological investigation of human experiences and material cultures, Tang creates luminal areas to recontextualize and compare systems of cultures in his multi-disciplinary artistic production that include video, sound, and graphic and sculptural installation.

As the first recipients of the Queens Museum/Jerome Foundation Fellowship for Emerging Artists, these New York-based artists have spent the past year working closely with curators and other staff members to optimize opportunities to expand their practice with the Museum serving as a catalytic agent.  They were selected by a panel that included Naomi Beckwith (Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago), Herb Tam (Curator, Museum of Chinese in America, New York), and Hitomi Iwasaki (Director of Exhibitions, Queens Museum, New York).

Meredith James’ Mobius City is staged as a life-size replica of her 10th floor apartment in East Village erected inside the museum’s gallery space. The interior of the apartment is designed to look the way an apartment inside of one of the tiny buildings in the Queens Museum’s Panorama of the City of New York might look; James’ model share the same simplified style, blown-up to human scale. Inside, a video plays a montage of scenes of the Queens Museum’s Panorama, along with views from the World Trade Center and her apartment window. James weaves this footage into a looping narrative exploring the optical relationship between the real city and its double—the miniature universe of the Panorama— in a hypnotic interplay of scale and illusion.

Kameelah Janan Rasheed’s Source Material for a Poem I’ve Been Trying to Write about Casual Superlatives, National Progress and Palate Cleansers explores her interest in poetry, improvisation, and narratives of progress, through a hybrid visual and literary art practice. Rasheed’s sprawling installation sutures together wide ranging “concentrated language” including both self-authored and found materials such as aphoristic posters, short poems, micro-fiction, book excerpts, and dictionary entries along with photographs and fabric. Her process of researching, digging through archives, and repurposing texts through alliterative games and constricted writing techniques, is rooted in the work of poets like Harryette Mullen. Rasheed will also lead a zine-making workshop—as an extension of her archiving practices—in collaboration with the Queens Museum’s New New Yorkers program that offers numerous workshops, often instructed in various languages. Please click here to find out more.

Casey Tang’s latest project was recently filmed in the regions along the Yangtze River in China, and the Mississippi River in the States. It is a portrayal of the trajectory of industrial capitalism, from the relics of the boom-to-bust cities in America, to the giant hi-rises in newly urbanizing China. The work is scored by a guitar tune that subtly transitions from that of a guqin (the oldest guitar-like Chinese instrument) into American guitar stylings, including country, blues, jazz, electronic, and/or ambient. The exhibition also features First Sounds (2012), a piece Tang created in collaboration with astronomer Mark Whittle, who used computer calculations rooted in the Cosmic Microwave Background data to recreate the fundamental tone and higher harmonics of the sound of the early universe. Dr. Whittle translated these sounds into the human range of hearing by upping the frequency by fifty octaves.

Catalyst: New Projects by Meredith James, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, and Casey Tang is generously supported by the Jerome Foundation’s Fellowship Program for Emerging Artists in New York City. Additional funding is provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Special thanks to Steinway & Sons for their generosity.

The Queens Museum/Jerome Foundation Fellowship Program for Emerging Artists in New York City is generously supported by the Jerome Foundation, celebrating its 50th anniversary.

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Meredith James, detail from Mobius City, 2015, mixed media installation, dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist.

Kameelah Janan Rasheed, installation detail from No Instructions for Assembly, Activation VII, 2015, dimensions variable, found photographs, xerox copied texts, self-authored texts, inkjet prints, woodblock prints, monoprints, newspaper clippings, vintage magazines, vintage books, fabric (felt, faux leather, vinyl, mesh, linen), embroidery thread, stockings, glass, human hair, various papers, black grocery bags, birch wood panels, and black frames. Courtesy the artist.

Still from Casey Tang, Untitled (Rivers), 2015, single channel video,  8’ 12”, looped. Courtesy of the artist.