A Poethical Wager

Organized by Senior Curator Andria Hickey

October 7, 2017January 28, 2018

Timed with the fifth anniversary of MOCA Cleveland’s Farshid Moussavi-designed building, A Poethical Wager explores the ethical dimension of works that use abstraction, minimalism, and assemblage to approach complex ideas that cannot be addressed through representation. Emblematic of an increasing global dependence on abstract transactions that occur largely outside of our vision and comprehension, the works in the exhibition manifest the complexity of modern life in both form and process. The title of this exhibition references the book The Poethical Wager by American poet and scholar, Joan Retellak, which is in part about forms that break patterns.

Through the lens of international artists working in a wide variety of media—sculpture, assemblage, film, installation, and painting—the exhibition probes how subjects born of changes in our international social, political, and economic contexts inhabit unexpected artistic forms. Rather than create works that function as direct accounts of a specific event or situation, the artists in the exhibition use form to weave a complex narrative using a constellation of source materials. In this way, viewers encounter a poetic interpretation of a specific subject that may more closely approximate its felt experience.

Curator Andria Hickey states, “The exhibition is developed through conversations with artists and seems especially timely given the increasingly complex relationship we have with world events that are both affecting and divorced from personal experience. Looking at abstraction as a form of response suggests a different way of working, and a different way of thinking about the affective power of art today.”

Confirmed artists include Doug Ashford (b. 1958, Rabat, MA); Abbas Akhavan (b. 1977, Tehran, IR); Abraham Cruzvillegas (b. 1968, Mexico City, MX); Lara Favaretto (b. 1973, Treviso, Italy); Iman Issa (b. 1979, Cairo, EG); Jumana Manna (b. 1987, Princeton, NJ); Oscar Murillo (b.1986, Valle del Cauco, Colombia), and Mario Garcia Torres (b. 1975, Monclova, Mexico).