The exhibition SOFT POWER is 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 coercive or violent expressions of power, the title contemplates the potential of art and offers a provocation to the public to exert their own influence on the world. Presented on two floors of the museum, the exhibition features new commissions and recent works by twenty international artists. Taken together, the works in SOFT POWER demonstrate what cultural theorist and filmmaker Manthia Diawara has called a solidarity between intuitions — a concept that acknowledges the complexity, darkness, and opacity from which our reality emerges — that expresses the poetry and imagination of our differences.
Dineo Seshee Bopape
LaToya Ruby Frazier
Tanya Lukin Linklater
Tuan Andrew Nguyen
Lead support for SOFT POWER is provided by Helen and Charles Schwab.
Major support is provided by Shawn and Brook Byers, the Ford Foundation, Diana Nelson and John Atwater, and Katie and Matt Paige.
Generous support is provided by Sabrina Buell and Yves Béhar, Sir Deryck and Lady Va Maughan, and Aey Phanachet and Roger Evans.
Meaningful support is provided by Alka and Ravin Agrawal, Oya and Bulent Eczacibasi, and the Friends of Contemporary Art at SFMOMA.
Header image: Tanya Lukin Linklater with Liz Lott, The treaty is in the body, 2017; courtesy the artist and Winnipeg Art Gallery; © Tanya Lukin Linklater