Temporary Spaces of Joy and Freedom

January 31, 2020May 17, 2020

“Historically Indigenous and Black artists have been visionaries in our struggles and movements. They have also affirmed our presence—created temporary spaces of joy and freedom, and enabled me to go on. In the academy I think about things, and lecture about things, but in performance I can set up space together with an audience to share something different. I really liked creating these islands of freedom, little glimpses of freedom where we stand together and we get to feel, just for a second maybe, what freedom might be like, and to get that feeling into our bones. These spaces open up different possibilities. These spaces are not just spaces of refusal, they are also generative. They are also spaces of joy and possibility.”

—Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

The group exhibition Temporary Spaces of Joy and Freedom honors the discussion that Indigenous (Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg) artist and scholar Leanne Betasamosake Simpson and Canadian poet and scholar Dionne Brand forged in their 2018 article of the same title reflecting on colonialism, anti-Blackness, Indigenous and Black liberation struggles, and the importance of ephemeral expressions and the arts in creating freedom. Featuring the art of Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Natalie Ball, John Edmonds, and Tricia Hersey, Temporary Spaces of Joy and Freedom, continues the article’s vision by spotlighting Indigenous and Black artists whose work and practices refuse dispossession and foster generative modes that center and nourish Indigenous and Black life. Working across performance, video, photography, and sculpture, these artists celebrate dynamic modes of connection and soulful regeneration.

Organized by La Tanya S. Autry, moCa’s Curatorial Fellow, Temporary Spaces of Joy and Freedom is the prologue of a longer conversation at moCa that explores how artists create liberatory futures. The next chapter Imagine Otherwise will unfold February 19–June 27, 2021.