CulturalDC presents Umar Rashid: Culinarism

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Washington, DC – CulturalDC, a DC-based nonprofit known for supporting ambitious and timely artistic endeavors such as Jennifer Rubell’s Ivanka Vacuuming (2016), is pleased to have Los Angeles-based artist Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers) as the inaugural resident of his Capital Artist Residency program, an annual initiative dedicated to elevating the impactful discourse of visual and multidisciplinary artists of color.

Presented in a solo exhibition from September 24 to November 21, Rashid’s residency focuses on the production of the last installment of his massive 18-year-old fictional universe: “an alternative and feudal version of America that has nobility and titles ”. In this world, Rashid whimsically imagines the cultural intricacies of colonial-era class dynamics through intergenerational iconography, maps, cosmological diagrams, Afrofuturist sensibilities, and pop culture references from his upbringing, such as than the golden age of hip hop.

The exhibit, Culinarialism, focuses specifically on the class dynamics of food while poignantly acknowledging the problematic history of the DC region as an epicenter of inhumane international business practices. The show uses the narrative setting of a classy dinner attended by visiting colonizers and world dignitaries – the ultimate embodiment of how food that is available exclusively to a privileged class has always reached their plates at a human cost and immense environmental. During his research during his residency, Rashid discovered the nefarious recurrences that run through history, from mass slavery for the sole purpose of food production, to various iterations of the contemporary question of how quinoa was. a staple of Andean nutrition until global trends pushed prices up to some extent. which prevented its regional accessibility.

In the events depicted throughout the 17 works in the exhibition, Rashid punctuates the feast of wealthy dignitaries with an uprising led by slaves. The exhibit’s six large paintings, which feature anachronistic pop culture references such as a basketball game and a barbecue, detail various sequential stages of the event: preparing and receiving merchandise; animal hunting; parties and dances; the meal itself; and the uprising which closes the festivities, aided in part by the divine intervention of the Yoruba gods. The second group, eleven works mounted on wood and ink on paper that have undergone a tea pigment aging process, includes smaller pieces like regional maps and portraits of Belhaven (the titular colonizer of the fictional region) and his associates, as well as portraits of the leadership of the opposition movement.

Says Rashid, “The main focus of my work is the reimagined stories and histories of people of color, which are often marginalized and omitted from historical records – and the intricacies of race, gender, class and global power. in the colonial world. “In his work,“ iconography serves as a marker of place between past, present and future. ”His stories are“ overwhelmingly informed by the hip hop culture of the golden age of [his] youth ”, as well as various references to pop culture ranging from old to contemporary. “The culture of gangs and prison, as well as specific revolutionary movements over time, also influence my work. “

Regarding the show’s specific commentary on food as part of its broader exploration of class dynamics, Rashid remarked, “The whole history of food is an ancient colonial enterprise that originated in the world. ancient and continues to this day. Greed, complicity and duplicity torment us all and prevent us from creating a union that is not perfect, but rather an acceptable one. “

Addressing the harsh realities of today that have guided the development of the exhibition, Rashid explains: “In these times of relative abundance, the majority of people find it inconceivable that everything that is seen has not always been there. . The economics of food production have changed very little since the colonial era despite the fact that some countries have taken a more scientific approach to crop rotation, vertical farming and limiting livestock overgrazing. However, desertification due to overgrazing, the poisoning of lakes and rivers by fertilizers creates algal blooms, zootrophic diseases infest livestock and become transmissible to humans. There is the gross wastage and mismanagement of arable land to cultivate a single for-profit crop, resulting in devastation of land and ecosystems, and in some cases widespread death from famine and overwork. Apathy? Or a general lack of attention? And every now and then there will be a story about the human cost of commercial farming. Nobody cares, as long as the grocery store is open until 9 p.m.


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