Soft power is a form of diplomacy characterized by enticement over antagonism that frequently manifests in the dissemination of music or visual arts and related cultural gestures. Political scientist Joseph Nye, who coined the term, describes it as “the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payments [which] arises from the attractiveness of a country’s culture, political ideals, and policies.”* In this exhibition, Jonny Farrow and Milad Mozari explored their shared interest in sound as a means of communication and political force while considering audible soft powers. They meditate on two vehicles of transmission; the former on the speaker itself and the latter on the sound which is being transmitted. Both work intimately in dialogue with their respective regional culture; Mozari currently resides in Chicago and Farrow in Abu Dhabi.
Inspired by the Muslim call to prayer and bespoke culture prevalent in the United Arab Emirates as well as the soft sculptures of Claes Oldenburg, Farrow presents non-functional public-address-style fabric speakers created as a multiple. The corporeal, handmade objects reflect his interest in small economies, politically imbued imagery, and the suggestion of sound and power that objects can invoke.
Mozari’s examination of sampling culture compels him to create material representations of sound. His algorithmically rendered walls function as both manifestations and absorbers of sonic energy. The machine-milled surfaces are cartograms of samples taken from music native to his current hometown and displayed in response to the space of Audible Gallery in modular form.
The presentation of these sound-oriented objects invites you to explore noise as a currency of exchange and medium of message.
Curated by Erin Toale.
*Joseph S. Nye, Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics (New York: Public Affairs, 2004), x.
Friday, July 17, 6-9PM
Live performance by Farrow/Mozari & friends.
07.18-08.30, Saturdays & Sundays, 1–5pm
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About the artists
Jonny Farrow is a multi-disciplinary artist working with sound as both a poetics and a material to research the liminal spaces of belief, memory, and history. Using concepts such as resonance, feedback, and transmission, Farrow sounds these spaces through various material and conceptual means in order to set them vibrating. He has shown and presented work in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Sweden, England, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. He produces The Distract and Disable Program heard monthly on WGXC 90.7 FM in Hudson, NY, and worldwide via the internet. He holds a BA in English, an MA in music, an MFA in Studio Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and currently lives and works in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Milad Mozari is an interdisciplinary artist and educator whose work in video, sculpture and performance move through the complex role of mobile sites and their associated norms and behavior. While studying for his BS in International Studies at the University of Utah, he began to make and exhibit work about language and place. He continued his studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he received an MFA in the Department of Sound. He has presented works and lectures in the United States, Ireland, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea. His research based practice often start with sound experimentations, which then grow into larger transitory performances dealing with issues of socio-economic status, labor and gender. He currently lives in Chicago where he teaches at SAIC in the Department of AIADO and Sculpture.
About the curator
Erin Toale is an artist, administrator, writer, and curator. She earned Dual MAs in Modern Art History, Theory, and Criticism and Arts Administration and Policy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013, and a BFA in 2D and 3D Fine Arts from Moore College of Art and Design in 2006. She has worked for a variety of non-profits, galleries, and research centers including the Seattle Art Museum, the Rebuild Foundation, the Social Impact of the Arts Project, and the Sullivan Galleries at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She makes art about buildings, words, and people.