Discover more from I Will (?) Figure This All Out Later
July 2023: She's baaaaaaack!
being an inconvenience; aftercare or self-care; upcoming shows and things; awareness practices; orange tangent study
Bismillah. We begin everything with the name of Allah. We say Bismillah to initiate an act to acknowledge the intention and the ethics we carry with all that follows Bismillah.
hi, hello!: on apologies and being an inconvenience
Y’all, it has been a minute.
I received a lovingly encouraging message. I am happy to hear that y’all missed my newsletter.
Even Substack sent me an email a few weeks ago, like, girl, where you been? Literally, they (or an automated message timed to alert delinquent writers) said, “We noticed it's been 3 months since you last posted on your Substack, I Will (?) Figure This All Out Later.”
My first impulse was to apologize profusely for my absence. It is an impulse that I am actively working to resist not because I have an issue with apologizing but because I am rarely apologizing for being out of touch; rather, I have found myself expressing regret for my suffering being such an inconvenience to the progression of uninterrupted labor. Cue my own work, lol - How to Suffer Politely (and Other Etiquette).
On March 8, 2022, I remember literally almost dying on a plane (TL;DR - a flight from Cleveland to New York couldn’t land so we experienced extreme turbulence for an hour then had an emergency landing in Scranton when the plane ran out of fuel) and my first response was not to reach out to my family, but to send an email at 12:08 am to my then supervisor to let them know that work would be interrupted. I took calls the next morning and was back in the office within a day, smiling as if nothing happened because I knew there was no space for me to be anything other than available. To this day, flying is painfully difficult, and I have to read the statistics on plane deaths vs. auto deaths, try to make eye contact with the pilot before boarding, and force myself to sleep just to fly without completely falling apart. This year, I have sent emails and texts to keep work going even on the day of my nan’s funeral, while down with a bout of COVID that almost hospitalized me and while very sick on a new medication. My “time away” was not even time to process the trauma; more than anything, it was simply time for the event itself to occur and for me to check in on everyone else. Nothing is processed or resolved; time has just passed. It is the convenient and routine gaslighting that implies that what we need to be ready for the next thing is to simply exist into the next day.
I’ve been writing a lot about aftercare.
I first learned about aftercare through a conversation about BDSM. I later learned that aftercare is discussed in the context of nursing homes and “post-incarceration.” I am curious about the language of aftercare as something distinct from self-care because aftercare foregrounds an acknowledgment that something happened. It also implies a collective responsibility because it is not something I go and scurry off to do independently, but it is something done with a partner or institution, or community. I find the concepts of self-care deeply individualistic and expensive (!!!). We work until we can’t, then we spend a bunch of money to reve ourselves back up to just a functional level to make us available for continued labor. People have written more eloquently and thoroughly on the relationship between self-care and the normalization of pitless consumerism so I will not do this here. I just want to surface that we need community and that as countless tweets and memes I have seen over the past several months have said — we are being expected to do what a full community does, independently.
Before making it to Berlin (more on that in a moment), I had to move with (not through, cause I am still in it!) a lot. Here is a quick rundown in order of unfortunate occurrence:
January: At the top of the year, while consulting with an organization serving students with learning disabilities, I got a *literal surprise* ADHD diagnosis. It rocked (and is rocking) my world in ways that make language impossible. There is neurodivergence, and then there is a diagnosis in your late 30s.
February: My divorce which felt like it was taking forever to finalize, was finally finalized after so many visits to the courthouse to sort out paperwork. Shout out to the women at the matrimonial office in Brooklyn who took my anxious calls, consistently explained the process, told me the secret times to call to always get a person, and were so deeply supportive with the reminder that I’ll be free soon. Soon, insha’Allah, I will write more in-depth about divorce. I have hesitated because writing about the insidiousness of non-physical abuse is hard, but I am so relieved to be on the other (legal) side of this all.
March: I had to start a new medication that made me very sick, and I couldn’t fast for Ramaḍān, which was really isolating.
More March: I lost my 90-year-old maternal nan at the beginning of Ramaḍān. While designing the obituary for her homegoing at the end of Ramaḍān, I decided that I wanted to become a death doula and found a program to begin in November.
April: designer scammed me out of 2500 USD. Ouch! The theft sucks, but it is a good reminder of how some people weaponize the language of abolition to evade responsibility. After waiting an entire 365 days to get one of two pre-paid projects delivered, by late April 2023, I had just one completed site which I still had to tinker with. Because they never completed the other project, I spent the last few months completing the project they never completed. My new studio website launches soon, all designed and coded by yours truly! In the interim, explore the colophon :) We have to wait on the next round of funding for the Orange Tangent Study grant because of this theft, but we will get back to funding in 2024. It is regretful that this dishonesty impacted so many others.
May: I had a sudden reoccurrence of angioedema and an allergist later confirmed I have both oral allergy syndrome (I can no longer eat most raw fruit) and chronic spontaneous urticaria (my body is just freestyling!). This coincided with my body fully rebelling. While supporting an Orange Tangent Study client in New Orleans, I got severe COVID (unable to breathe, urgent care, and two literal shots in my butt to help my breathing). I was stranded in New Orleans for several days because I was not cleared to fly.
But I am still here. And a bunch more nonsense happens through June, and I am sitting on a goofy July, too!
To be honest, I do not understand how I got through the last six months without multiple nervous breakdowns. I guess we don’t really have a choice but to keep going. Every day, I am grateful to Allah that as terrible as this has all felt, I still feel shielded from the worst bits of angst. I never felt depressed, but I imagine that was because I didn’t have time for that either. Maybe I am numb, or maybe my cortisol is terribly high, and everything feels normal, ha! It’s been a hell of a few months, but looking forward to softer days. But actually, not even softer days — just a more graceful engagement with the diversity of experiences I will have in this lifetime. In a year of extremes, I desire moderation.
I cannot help but be led to an excerpt from Zora Neale Hurston’s autobiography:
Yes, I too have been in “Sorrow’s kitchen and licked out all the pots.” It’s been such a long long six months and much like Hurston’s reminder, I have to ask myself “So why give off the smell of something dead under the house while I am still in there tussling with my sword in my hand?” I am tussling! I will end here with Lucille Clifton’s poem, “won’t you celebrate with me”:
Just kidding, lol. I said I was going to end there, but I have a little more to say. It is not that we are not going to suffer; we will. Our life experiences are varied and capacious … and the way we process and respond to those experiences is also diverse. Sometimes, I think about to what extent a moment in my life was terrible or if it felt utterly unbearable because my regulation skills were still developing. I thought this was just a case of calloused spirit, ha — but no! This is not to dismiss some of the terror of the last few years, but the things that broke me several years ago would still hurt, but my response would spring from a well of grace rather than a well of fear. My therapist is constantly reminding me to think about these shifting stages of awareness — something that feels apparent and firm in this present moment may slip into my unconscious later. When I am reflecting and considering the weight of it all, I wrote some questions for myself.
What values, truths, and desires were most consciously aware to me when I made this decision/had this reaction?
What values, truths, and desires do I wish were more consciously aware to me when I made this decision/had this reaction?
Is there a system or heuristic I can use in the future so that the things that slip into my unconscious can be strategically resurfaced for a healthier decision or reaction? How can I slow myself down to engage in this resurfacing process?
There was a lot of individual therapy talk in this newsletter. I want to end on a note of revolution and ecosystems. We have all been guilty of saying, “so and so needs to go to therapy!” And yes, while that is true, I can’t help but face the truth of a recent tweet exchange:
Most of my time in therapy is spent on building up the reserves and strength not to become adjusted to the crisis that we are all operating under each day. So yes, this individual work is important, but it is not the only work that needs to happen.
Shows and Things
It has been a rough few months, but I am enjoying myself as I work toward a thick season of projects and shows. Only by the will and grace of Allah have I still been able to pull together work for three solo presentations (and another to be announced shortly), four group shows, a whole book, and a bunch of new writing. It’s mostly all new work and a few old things — but new paintings (!!!!) and new prints and new rubbings and new drawings and new audio installations.
❍ ❍ ❍ [Solo]: KW Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin, Germany)
Schering Stiftung Award for Artistic Research 2022: Kameelah Janan Rasheed
14 September 2023 – 7 January 2024
Curator: Sofie Krogh Christensen | Curatorial Assistant: Linda Franken
+ a new book coming out in September and a bunch of public programming
❍ ❍ ❍ [Solo Booth]: Armory (New York, NY)
Presents Section: NOME Gallery
8 September 2023 – 10 September 2023
❍ ❍ ❍ [Solo]: Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
Ruttenberg Contemporary Photography Series: Kameelah Janan Rasheed
26 August 2023 – 8 January 2024
Curator: Grace Deveney
❍ ❍ ❍ [Group]: 4th Autostrada Biennale (Prizren, Kosovo)
All Images Will Disappear, One Day
7 July – 9 September, 2023
Curators: Joanna Warsza and Övül Ö. Durmuşoğlu
❍ ❍ ❍ [Group]: Urbane Künste Ruhr (Bochum, Germany)
Ruhr Ding: Schlaf
5 May – 24 June 2023
Art in public spaces across the Ruhr area in Mülheim an der Ruhr, Essen, Witten and Gelsenkirchen-Erle
Curators: Brita Peters and Alisha Raissa Danscher
❍ ❍ ❍ [Group]: Fotografiska New York (New York, NY)
Listen Until You Hear For: Freedoms x Fotografiska New York
5 May - 22 October 2023
❍ ❍ ❍ [Group]: Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) (Scottsdale, AZ)
Language in Times of Miscommunication
4 March - 27 August 2023
Curator: Lauren O’Connell
here and there: lofoten and berlin
I am writing to you while listening to L’Rain’s Fatigue. While it was released in 2021, I could not listen to it until other people stopped talking about it; I wanted to have my own experience with it. This approach often means I miss music or forget about it. In fact, I still haven’t listened to D’Angelo’s 2014 album, Black Messiah because too many people were talking about it. I like this timescale for myself — becoming excited on a delay, stretching my timescale of what is “new.” L’Rain’s Fatigue is lush. I almost said, “I wish I would have listened to it sooner,” but I think I am listening to it exactly when I need it.
I Will (?) Figure This All Out Later is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
I am writing to you from a courtyard cafe in Berlin, Germany where a tiny yellow insect is crawling on my screen. I think of them as a tiny collaborator in this writing practice, much like this work of mine, Interspecies Efforts at Close Reading where a bug got caught in the feeder of my Xerox machine printing a copy of Jane Gallop’s essay “The Ethics of Reading: Close Encounters” (2000). Before arriving for a multi-month stay in Berlin, I was on the Lofoten Islands in Norway where in the midst of my first midnight sun, I spent much of my time reflecting on orogeny (or what I call plates kissing to form mountains), the poetry of the horizon line, and scale — I felt small in the most beautiful of ways.
I have spent days here reading Gertrude Stein and drinking coffee.
My flat has red floors and seems to maintain a perfect temperature with just a fan. I wash clothes in the bathroom washer and hang them to dry, and sometimes it takes days so I am keeping time based on the dryness of the X-Files shirt hanging in the hallway. There is a tasty and inexpensive Vietnamese restaurant right around the corner, and they have been so kind to support my dietary needs — no rice please, more salad. The coffee is cheap and strong (and discounted), and somehow, I can digest cow’s milk here. The tap water tastes great, but nothing compares to the tap water in Skrova Fyr, Lofoten - Norway. It is easy to walk 3 miles without noticing, and I have enjoyed wandering without an agenda. There are so many copy shops and a few cute punky ones — the one I visited last week reminded me that while I love having a home copier, there is something about making photostatic copies with others.
Moving here for a few months feels like when I was 20 and just finished college and moved to Johannesburg, South Africa. Almost twenty years later, I do it again, albeit for a shorter term, but the same feelings of adventure, fear, and uncertainty are here. Sometimes, it feels weird to remember that you’ve been alive long enough to say “twenty years ago.” It feels like a gift to be able to do this again with a different set of skills and experiences.
Before Berlin, I was in Lofoten, Norway on a research trip. I have never been this far north on this planet! It was a thrill. I am reminded of how much I need to be near water. There are so many things to share, which I will share in the next newsletter, but for now, a few digital images while I wait for my film rolls to be developed.
Saying Goodbye to New York: Cute Things in June!
Before leaving for Europe, I went to Los Angeles to lead a Xerox workshop at the Getty Center in response to the exhibit Barbara T. Smith: The Way to Be. Fun fact — Barbara T. Smith graduated from my alma mater, Pomona College, in 1953. There were a lot of fun moments, but my favorite was helping this kid photocopy his locs!
I also got to see my mentees from NEW Inc present at DEMOS 2023!
I spent a full-day outside not doing any work. A friend and I walked and talked for miles before ending up at Prospect Park where I got to see so many cute doggies and listen to a live band!
Things I have Not Had a Chance to Read but really, really want to read:
Finally, I am still quite jetlagged and do not have any more coherent thoughts so below are some random articles I want to read but still have not read yet. Read them and let me know what you think!
△△△ What is a weed?
Work with me?
My consulting project, Orange Tangent Study is accepting new clients for the 2023-2024 year. I am most excited to support curriculum-based projects as well as teaching initiatives in “non-traditional” contexts. I have had so much fun this year with this sort of work! But, also, please just surprise me with a wild proposal! Always down for an adventure! If you are interested in working with us, please complete this intake form!
Thank you for reading,
How to cite this newsletter: Rasheed, K. (Year, Month Day). Newsletter Title. I Will (?) Figure This All Out Later. URL
Thank you for reading,