Backseat Driver

Kameelah Janan Rasheed & Yuken Teruya

SAPAR Contemporary
9 North Moore, New York, NY 10013
New York
Sep 3rd 2020 — Oct 1st 2020

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From the daily news cycle, to historical events, movements, and periods, the narrative of Western society has been fragmented into digestible, short-term episodes. Amidst the supermarket aisles of histories – packaged, shelved, and discounted – emerge two critical voices who advocate for a much more thorough and uneasy study. Kameelah Janan Rasheed and Yuken Teruya unite in ​Backseat Driver​ to visualize long-term imperialist structures whose survival is contingent upon their imperceptibility.

In her ongoing series, ​A Casual Mathematics​, Kameelah Janan Rasheed articulates systemic racial inequality through the language of numbers. Imprecisely applying mathematical functions and shapes in relation to archival texts, Rasheed undermines the assumption that formulas and numbers are impartial vehicles of information. This upheaval of what is rational or true calls into question the way in which the history of Black liberation has been told. Unearthing repressed narratives and combining conflicting histories, Rasheed’s work expresses how complex lives cannot be reduced to fixed formulas.

Mimicking how capital dictates the framework of Western institutions, Yuken Teruya dissects and reassembles Monopoly money to create a labyrinthine network of pastel-colored fragments. Originally from Okinawa, which has a long history of US occupation, Teruya presents biting commentary on capitalism and imperialism’s impact on his homeland. ​Parade From Far Far Away​ combines traditional Okinawan dyed fabric (Bingata) with Western iconography, illustrating the lasting effects of the occupation. ​My Father's favorite Game (Flipping Earth and Sky)​ commemorates the 1970 Koza riot through an invented sport, transforming a violent moment into a unifying, creative force.

Together, Rasheed and Teruya examine the narratives of place and its sociological framework while uncovering an underlying civil unrest. More hopeful than not, ​Backseat Driver ​submits the possibility that we can outlive the slowly enduring systems of injustice through everlasting resistance.

Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Future, 2019.