July 15, 2017–January 1, 2018

Floor 7 and multiple locations throughout the museum

Soundtracks is the museum’s first large-scale group exhibition centered on the role of sound in contemporary art. Focusing on the perceptual experience of space, the exhibition offers opportunities for discovering public architectural features and galleries throughout the newly expanded building. Spanning sculpture, audio and video installation, and performance pieces made since 2000, the show takes its point of departure from key works in the media arts collection. Select pieces address the association of “soundtracks” with film scores in unexpected ways, while others take various approaches to visualizing the relationship between sound and space. Moving beyond medium-specific histories of sound art and electronic music, this cross-generational presentation highlights past SFMOMA commissions by Brian Eno and Bill Fontana, as well as new and diverse work from over twenty contemporary artists, including Ragnar Kjartansson, Christina Kubisch, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, O Grivo, and Susan Philipsz. Soundtracks is accompanied by a map and an online catalogue.

Support for Soundtracks is provided by the French American Cultural Society and the Office for Contemporary Art Norway.

Office for Contemporary Art Norway

Header image: Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, ​clinamen v.2, 2012–ongoing (detail); courtesy the artist and Paula Cooper Gallery, New York; © Céleste Boursier-Mougenot

Exhibition Preview

  • Porcelain bowls float across the surface of a shallow, circular pool filled with turquoise water

    Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, clinamen v.2, 2012–ongoing; courtesy the artist and Paula Cooper Gallery, New York; © Céleste Boursier-Mougenot; photo: Remi Bertrand, 2015, courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York

  • A woman in headphones sits alone playing an accordion in an ornately decorated but slightly ramshackle drawing room

    Ragnar Kjartansson, The Visitors, 2012; jointly owned by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and The Museum of Modern Art, New York, acquired through the generosity of Mimi Haas and Helen and Charles Schwab; © Ragnar Kjartansson; photo: Elísabet Davids, courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York, and i8 Gallery, Reykjavik

  • A woman in headphones stands listening next to a tangled, hanging mass of red cables

    Christina Kubisch, Cloud, 2011; courtesy the artist; © Christina Kubisch

  • A woman stands looking down with her ear right against a hanging black orb covered in small silver speakers

    Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Sphere Packing: Wagner, 2013; glazed porcelain 3-D print and 110-channel audio, 5 1/8 in. (13 cm) diameter; courtesy the artist and bitforms gallery, New York; © Rafael Lozano-Hemmer / Vegap, Spain; photo: Oliver Santana, courtesy the artist and bitforms gallery, New York

  • A single snare drum and two drumsticks are suspended from a ceiling panel

    Anri Sala, Moth in B-Flat, 2015; collection of Gina and Stuart Peterson; © Anri Sala; photo: Stephen White, courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery

Artists in the Exhibition

Guy Ben Ner Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
Céleste Boursier-Mougenot Amor Muñoz
Paul DeMarinis Camille Norment
Brian Eno
O Grivo
Bill Fontana
Susan Philipsz
Jacqueline Kiyomi Gordon
Amalia Pica
Chris Kallmyer and Mark Allen
Anri Sala
Christine Sun Kim and Thomas Mader
Sergei Tcherepnin
Ragnar Kjartansson
Richard T. Walker
Christina Kubisch
Lyota Yagi

Exhibition Guide

Check out the Soundtracks guide for information on exhibition locations and schedule details.

Digital Publication


Dive deeper into Soundtracks with the free online exhibition catalogue, edited by co-curators Rudolf Frieling and Tanya Zimbardo, featuring an artist project by Brandon LaBelle, Dena Beard and Frank Smigiel discussing sound and performance, and writings on exhibition artists and artworks.