Ancien Regime Change Part Two... Umar Rashid in Paris
Umar Rashid is a brilliant title writer. He would have done well in a newspaper headline department. I was thinking this as I read the title of the artist also known as Frohawk Two Feathers' first and new show with Almine Rech in Paris, Ancien Regime Change Part Two. En Germinal: Les Printemps de Guerre. It's a heavy load of implications and humor and historical perspective, which is all the things Rashid puts forth in a body of work: a mirror is brought up, a remix too, and history is never the same because it wasn't the same or right in the first place.
When we spoke to Umar last year on the Radio Juxtapoz podcast, Rashid said to us "Freedom struggles happen all the time. The whole world is full of popular misconceptions and horrible shit, and I just bring it to light in a very loose way. I make it accessible because if we're at each other's throats all the goddamn time, if we're all like, 'Fuck you. You did this to me,' it's just like old school feuding. And that has to end." For this new solo show in Paris, Rashid is back in 1796 and his Frenglish Empire, where, as the gallery notes, "this show’s subjects out of France’s domestic borders, expanding his focus to the fringe of the Frenglish Empire, following the battles taking place in four locales, all while Frenglad attempts to make inroads in new locations, widen its colonial borders, and maintain its relevance as a superpower."
In his very original way, Rashid is rethinking history while reading history, filling in the holes or remaking new avenunes for us to understand our past so we can deeply come to grips with our present. He has a gift of making 1796 feel relevant, or that a little sorid or minute detail from the past informs us on so much of who we are today. The great artists can imagine a new universe or new world, and Rashid is just that; only he is reimagining our entire canon of history, —Evan Pricco