SFMOMA Presents 'Soft Power' — International Contemporary Exhibition Featuring New Commissions and Recent Work by 20 Artists

Friday, December 20, 2019
SFMOMA Presents 'Soft Power' — International Contemporary Exhibition Featuring New Commissions and Recent Work by 20 Artists

Timely and provocative, Soft Power is an exhibition about the ways in which artists deploy art to explore their roles as citizens and social actors. Appropriated from the Reagan-era term used to describe how a country’s “soft” assets such as culture, political values and foreign policies can be more influential than violence or coercion, the title Soft Power suggests a contemplation on the potential of art and offers a provocation to the public to exert their own influence on the world.

Image: Nairy Baghramian, Retainer, 2013 (installation view 2013, SculptureCenter, New York); courtesy the artist

 

Timely and provocative, Soft Power is an exhibition about the ways in which artists deploy art to explore their roles as citizens and social actors. Appropriated from the Reagan-era term used to describe how a country’s “soft” assets such as culture, political values and foreign policies can be more influential than violence or coercion, the title Soft Power suggests a contemplation on the potential of art and offers a provocation to the public to exert their own influence on the world.

The exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) remains on view through February 17, 2020.

 

Work of Pratchaya Phinthong, image courtesy for @sfmoma. While traveling through Mongolia’s capital, Pratchaya Phinthong noticed the pervasive pollution caused by low-burning cheap coal. This work, "A whole from a different half," touches on the repercussions of limitless extraction while also offering a symbolic gesture of restitution.

 

Organized by Eungie Joo, curator of contemporary art, and presented exclusively at SFMOMA on two floors of the museum, the exhibition features new and recent work by 20 international artists working in 12 countries. More than three quarters of the works in Soft Power are commissions and new works never before presented in the United States. Taken together, the works demonstrate what cultural theorist, filmmaker and catalogue contributor Manthia Diawara has called a solidarity between intuitions — a concept that acknowledges the complexity, darkness and opacity from which our reality emerges — the poetry and imagination of our differences. According to Joo, “Professor Diawara’s solidarity between intuitions expresses how specific works can enhance our understanding of others by association and relation, while maintaining their distinct contexts and content. I trust the public can relate to many of the concerns of the artists in Soft Power, and hope that this exhibition will unleash an untapped energy among us.”

 

Nairy Baghramian, Retainer, 2013 (installation view 2013, SculptureCenter, New York); courtesy the artist

 

Soft Power reflects SFMOMA’s commitment to living artists and the world we share, as outlined in our new Strategic Plan,” said Neal Benezra, Helen and Charles Schwab Director of SFMOMA. “The diverse practices and perspectives represented in this exhibition embody the goals of this museum: to embrace new ideas, push boundaries and share new ways of looking at our world through the lens of contemporary art.”

 

Soft Power, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

Through February 17, 2020.

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 Victoria Zhivotneva, “Atocha. Madrid”, 2020

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