Planned Wilds and Self-Anointed Prophets

With Anjuli Raza Kolb, Jaffer Kolb & Kameelah Janan Rasheed 6:30 p.m. The New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Celeste Auditorium
Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, New York, New York

Please join us for presentations by Anjuli Raza Kolb, Jaffer Kolb, and Kameelah Janan Rasheed, recipients of Triple Canopy’s sixth annual call for proposals, this year held in partnership with the New York Public Library. Over the course of twelve months, the Kolbs and Rasheed have engaged with materials in the NYPL’s holdings both critically and imaginatively, and used them as the basis for new creative work. The Kolbs will share their research into the social and architectural history of the Central Park Ramble, a site of wilding, softening, and derationalization, as well as a crucial site of New York’s gay history. Rasheed will discuss the self-anointed black prophets who created and sustained unconventional post-slavery communities. Following the presentations, they will be joined by Triple Canopy editorial director Molly Kleiman to discuss their forthcoming magazine projects and new modes of reading and writing history.

Anjuli Raza Kolb and Jaffer Kolb are siblings working at the intersection of visual and scholarly practice. Anjuli is a professor of English and comparative literature at Williams College and Jaffer is a designer and lecturer at Princeton University’s School of Architecture. For their Triple Canopy commission, the Kolbs explore the social and architectural history of the Central Park Ramble. Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, along with master gardener Ignaz Anton Pilát, designed the thirty-eight-acre Ramble to bring the “mysterious illusion of lush, tropical vegetation” into an otherwise highly rational park. The perfect combination of wildness and density, invisibility, and navigability, the Ramble has served as one of the city’s most significant wilds, a space for orgiastic reverie, for community and solidarity, and for refuge and love during the darkest days of the AIDS crisis. The Kolbs’s research draws upon the library’s Pilát papers and the Gay Activists Alliance records.

Kameelah Janan Rasheed is an artist-archivist whose work has been exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Queens Museum, the Bronx Museum, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Weeksville Heritage Center, among other venues. Rasheed’s project focuses on printed matter, sermons, and religious iconography produced in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries within black religious movements in the United States. She will explore how self-anointed black prophets created and sustained post-slavery communities, inspiring a sense of belonging on the part of followers. Her research involves sermons, song lyrics, proselytizing materials, photographs, FBI investigation files, and ephemera related to the Moorish Science Temple of America, which are housed at the New York Public Library’s Schomberg Center. For her forthcoming publication in Triple Canopy, Rasheed is drawing on these documents, especially sermons, to narrate the history and possible future of such movements and their adherents.

The 2015 Triple Canopy commission recipients have received twelve months of access to one of the research study rooms at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building; access to reference librarians and the NYPL digital team for one-on-one consultations; and an honorarium of $2,000 from Triple Canopy. Their resulting projects will be published in Triple Canopy’s online magazine.

  • Anjuli Raza Kolb is Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Williams College, where she teaches courses on colonial and postcolonial literature and theory. Her current book project, “Epidemics of Terror,” reconstructs the long-standing relationship between narratives and epistemologies of public health and the literature and discourse of anticolonial insurgency and terror from the late nineteenth century to the present.
  • Jaffer Kolb is a New York-based designer and lecturer at Princeton University’s School of Architecture. His work is dedicated to finding new sites for architecture in political and material economies through experiments in preservation and form. Most recently, he was the 2015 Muschenheim Fellow at the University of Michigan, and before that worked as a designer in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. His work has appeared in exhibitions internationally, and published in Wired, Blueprint, and Abitare, among others. In the past, he worked as a curator as well as a critic for a range of international publications.
  • Kameelah Janan Rasheed is a Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist and writer. She works in installation, photography, printmaking, publication, and performance. She is on the faculty of the MFA Fine Arts program at the School of Visual Arts and also works as a social studies curriculum developer for New York public schools. Her work has been exhibited at the 2017 Venice Biennale, the Studio Museum in Harlem, Jack Shainman Gallery, the Queens Museum, the Bronx Museum, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Weeksville Heritage Center, Project Row Houses, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, and Pinchuk Art Centre, among other venues. She is the recipient of awards and honors including the Harpo Foundation Grant, Magnum Foundation Grant, Creative Exchange Lab at the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art Residency, Smack Mellon Studio Residency, Queens Museum Jerome Emerging Artist Fellowship, Artadia Grant, Art Matters Grant, and Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant.