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moCa Cleveland announces the new exhibition Temporary Spaces of Joy and Freedom
Tricia Hersey, A Resting Place, 2019. Installation: Flux Projects, Atlanta, Georgia. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Tabia Lisenbee-Parker.

CLEVELAND, OH.- This winter, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland presents Temporary Spaces of Joy and Freedom, in the Toby Devan Lewis Gallery and Interior Stair from January 31–May 17, 2020. Conceived and organized by Gund Curatorial Fellow La Tanya Autry, who previously held curatorial positions at the Yale University Art Gallery and the Mississippi Museum of Art, Temporary Spaces of Joy and Freedom celebrates dynamic modes of connection and soulful regeneration.

The exhibition takes its title from a 2018 discussion published in the Literary Review of Canada between Canadian poet and scholar Dionne Brand and Betasamosake Simpson, and includes the work of Leanne Betasamosake Simpson with Cara Mumford and Amanda Strong, Tricia Hersey, John Edmonds, Vaimoana Niumeitolu and Kyle Goen. Temporary Spaces of Joy and Freedom explores Indigenous and Black liberation, anti-colonialism, the deep significance of land to Indigenous people, and the importance of care within communities.

Temporary Spaces of Joy and Freedom includes two video works based on the writings of Leanne Betasamosake Simpson; a Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar, writer, and artist. Biidaaban (The Dawn Comes) (2019), directed by Amanda Strong, examines the implications of contemporary urban land ownership on the traditional Indigenous practice of maple sugaring. Leaks (2013), directed by Cara Mumford, explores Indigenous people’s generational ties, connection to land, and struggles for sovereignty as it offers tender insight into a child’s first exposure to racism. Temporary Spaces of Joy and Freedom will also include photography from John Edmonds. Edmonds’ sumptuous, surprising images celebrate Black life and freedom while also refusing racial, gender, and class biases.

In an effort to provide our minds and bodies—and particularly for Black people —a respite from the ongoing grind and hustle, as well as the incessant weathering of life and survival, visitors will be invited to rest within an installation of Tricia Hersey’s Portals of Rest. Hersey’s work asserts that naps can operate as a space of healing and a form of resistance as well as reparation.

“People are tired, that’s why we need to build communities of care,” says Autry. “The show acknowledges those temporary spaces, helping people realize that by caring for ourselves we create moments for envisioning and creating what we want to become."

“We have to fight big issues like colonialism or racism collectively,” she says. “They’re structural problems that require ongoing action to take them down.”

In 2017, Autry co-founded the campaign, Museums Are Not Neutral, which garnered global attention by challenging the conventional thinking of museums as apolitical spaces and instead recognizing them as products of colonialism that have possibilities for significant transformation. Citing the violent deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice as “the re-spectacularization of Black death,” and in part the impetus of the movement, Autry says, “people end up becoming hashtags. I understand my role as trying to unravel the ongoing violence.” She continues, “I want to champion the work of artists of color, specifically women of color and groups who are marginalized in institutions. I want more exposure for their work and to get their stories and histories out there,” says Autry. Temporary Spaces of Joy and Freedom is Autry’s first exhibition since joining moCa in spring 2019.

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