Credit: Artist and Blum & Poe | Photo: Josh Schnaedel

The Blum & Poe gallery is presenting Umar Rashid’s first solo exhibition ‘En Garde / On God’ that takes alternative history to heights that Tarantino could only dream of.

The exhibition focuses on Umar Rashid’s alternative historical narratives, focusing on his fictional ‘Frenglish Empire’ (1648-1880).

The exhibition is part of a 15-year project of Rashid’s to document the fictious history of the Frenglish Empire.

As you might expect, the stories that Rashid has included draw from canonical narratives of empires and their colonies. But of course, it’s those that were marginalised and omitted from the historical record that Rashid focuses on heavily.

Umar Rashid finds himself drawing imagery from hip-hop, pop culture (both ancient and modern), gang life, prison life, and revolutionary movements.

His works underline the role of race, gender, class, and power when it comes to history and how we recount it.

You would think that this would be all dark and dire, but the exhibition has quite a bit of levity to it. That’s what it key here, as humour can play a role in representing history for a newer generation that is eager to deal with the mistakes of the past. If you can laugh at something from the past, then you are allowing yourself to see that the way things were was silly and shouldn’t become the way things are.

The Frenglish Empire may never have actually existed, but you can recognise so much about it. The missions, the warring factions, the shrinking and expanding of colonies and empires as war and trade influence the lives of millions. Even the characters of history will feel familiar in their new reinterpreted roles.

If you are planning on visiting LA any time soon, then consider visiting the exhibit. It will be open until December 18.

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