How to Remain Human

June 12, 2015 — September 5, 2015

Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland


Carmen Winant, A World Without Men, 2015, wall collage, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist and MOCA Cleveland.
Ben Hall, in process image of The Drill, courtesy of the artist and Young World, Detroit.
Jae Jarrell, Urban Wall Suit, c. 1969, sewn and painted cotton and silk two-piece suit, 37 1/2 x 27 1/2 x 10 inches. Collection of the Brooklyn Museum.
d.a. levy, Refrigerator Mantra, 1967, typewritten manuscript. Courtesy of Special Collections at Kent State University.
Mary Ann Aitken, Untitled (fish bowl), 1983, oil on newspaper, 12 x 14 inches. Collection of Susan Goethel Campbell. Image courtesy of MOCA Cleveland

Carmen Winant, 61 Minutes in Heaven, 2015, diptych, each 20 x 30 inches. Courtesy of the artist.
Kevin Jerome Everson, Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Filling, 2014, still from 16mm film, 00:01:50. Courtesy of the artist, Trilobite Arts-DAC; Picture Palace Pictures, New York. Copyright Kevin Jerome Everson.
Michaelangelo Lovelace Sr., P-funk party, 1999. Courtesy of the artist.

Mary Ann AitkenDerf BackderfCara BenedettoChristi BirchfielddadpranksKevin Jerome EversonBen HallJae Jarrell Harris JohnsonJimmy Kuehnled.a. levyMichelangelo Lovelace Sr.Dylan Spaysky, and Carmen Winant.

How to Remain Human continues MOCA Cleveland’s focused engagement with artists connected to Cleveland and the surrounding region, including neighboring cities in Pennsylvania and Michigan. It features emerging, mid-career, and established artists, working across a wide variety of media, who question and affirm humanness.

The exhibition’s title is a line from the late Ohio writer d.a. levy’s “Suburban Monastery Death Poem” (1968). Ardent, aching, and raw, levy’s poetry captured the struggle for freedom and expression during a tumultuous time in Cleveland’s history. Among the artists in How to Remain Human, there is a shared sense of the need to make, in order to interrogate life and claim space. They explore various ways of acting in and experiencing the world, questioning how we can go on, relate, and be.

Language and narratives are found in many of the works, presenting chronicles of the everyday and the urgent need to communicate. Thick paint, familiar objects, and engagements with the body give the exhibition a heightened sense of touch and physicality. Humor and nonsense become tools to playfully puncture life’s routines, habits, and trials. Together, the works tackle the complexity and intensity of being human: conflict, power, pleasure, folly, doubt, loss, skin, sex, home, money, hair, rage, romance, confusion, darkness, lightness, reaching, pushing, here, now, never, again, more, always.

with Rose Bouthillier, Associate Curator, and Megan Lykins Reich, Deputy Director