Power Play

Power Play brings together works from the Tang collection that use play to challenge various power structures and our assumptions about them. Rather than confront power with indignation or solemnity, these works employ many forms of play ranging from satire and delightful or uncomfortable humor to toying with images by others.

The works in Power Play address power’s complexity and its many guises, from the global scale of politics and inequality to the intimacy of sexual dynamics. Several works imply the bodily harm power can inflict, while others suggest the comfort or even gratification that submission to control can offer. Other pieces explore how power can dictate who and what have a discernible cultural and historical presence and what is ignored or forgotten.

The art works in Power Play lead us to ask how humor can point out and denounce manipulations and abuses of power. Several artists do this by emphasizing the absurdity or corruption of specific power structures, as does William Hogarth in his acerbic send-up of the medical profession, The Company of the Undertakers (1736). Other works isolate potent symbols to strip them of their context and signification, leaving us to question the power we confer on them. Integrating unexpected elements, such as a simple carton of milk, can add a delightful surprise. Yet the unanticipated can also be disconcerting, as we are compelled to confront our own expectations and prejudices.
Exhibition Name
Power Play
Exhibition Type
Group Exhibitions
Winter Gallery
Feb 6, 2010 - Apr 26, 2010
Power Play is organized by Tang Curatorial Assistant Megan Hyde and Assistant Registrar Ryan Lynch.
Mary Bauermeister, Nayland Blake, Salvador Dalí, Kathy Grove, John Heartfield, William Hogarth, Jane Masters, Marlene McCarty, Yasumasa Morimura, Andy Warhol
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