At the close of the Cold War, the US political scientist Joseph Nye coined the term “soft power”, a theory which holds that nations can wield their cultural influence to gain allies more efficiently than by economic or military coercion alone.
After nearly 30 years of US co-option, though, the country now finds itself losing most of its friends. “Soft Power”, curated by Eungie Joo, fittingly turns Nye’s theory on its head, examining how 20 artists “deploy art to explore their roles as citizens and social actors”. Rather than seeking to export values, many of the works on display shine a harsh light on the US’s own socio-political ills.
Pablo Picasso was an awesome artist. No one really argues about that. He was the founder of Cubism, a movement which lay the foundation of much Twentieth Century art, and he is probably the best-known and most influential artist of his time. That’s great. But what does it mean that his personal life was not so stellar? Now, we may never know the whole story, but people around him tended to commit…
“In an earlier article, I talked about poetry as a genre, addressing its concept and explaining a little about the three different subgenres that this wonderful art has. Talking about that made me think how sometimes we forget about the importance of what we feel through art, and we only think about if what we are doing fits into a certain category or not, or if it will be accepted as good by the art experts”, the author writes.
“Socially conscious art. To be fair, one could argue that “all art is socially conscious.” But if you’re going to argue that I feel like you get into that weird realm of “what’s art and what’s not?”
No. I’m talking about overt, in your face, art that makes clear commentary on problems in our society” the author writes.
The fight against HIV, AIDS and sexual health ignorance have long been a thread in contemporary art, with the work of Keith Haring being the most obvious example. Safe Sex (1988) is one of the pop maestro’s many pieces that championed the desperate need for education on sexual health during the AIDS crises. Living and working in New York, Haring campaigned tirelessly until he died of AIDS-related complications in 1990.