Papers on Power
The following text was written by the Center for Art Research:
POWER comes from the Latin word “potere”, meaning “to be able to”, and is often associated with words such as control, influence, ability, potential, force, impact, energy, and might, among others. Power is often thought of as that which is possessed, transferred, acted upon, exchanged, imposed, and has affect. In its most basic form, power can be described as an exchange of energy that has the potential to yield physical, theoretical, or social impact. It has the ability to do something in a particular way, especially as a faculty, quality, or physical manifestation. Power is omnipresent, existing within, outside, and between forces, objects, people, institutions, and social and cultural systems. Power can be tangible or intangible, enduring or temporary, and have no impact on a body or such that shapes its existence completely.
As an expansive way to investigate notions of power, the University of Oregon Center for Art Research (CFAR) commissioned artists and cultural producers with a range of lived experiences to respond to the question “What is power?” as it relates to their work and thinking. Contributors were encouraged to make this endeavor something that in some way serves them, or to approach the occasion of developing their piece as a way to process or explore things they may not otherwise. While the project is called Papers on Power, CFAR encouraged contributors to use any format they deem appropriate, from the typical academic paper or photo essay to experimental forms that may have little or no precedent. The initial project prompt posed a 1200 word maximum, which was chosen as more of a starting point than a constraint and that which is not quite long enough to completely resolve most thoughts but affords the opportunity to be speculative or propositional to introduce thinking specific to an individual’s practice(s) while modeling, probing, and/or elucidating the nature of their relationship to the subject of power. CFAR followed the work, adjusting timelines and lending support as needed to let things mature organically within the complexity of the lives that produced them.
Papers on Power is a compilation of casts to the ether, sent from home sites all over the US during a time that was fraught and unclear, and so difficult to find purchase in. These pieces were published through CFAR’s website as they were completed in 2020 and 2021, and now bound here to seed thinking and catalyze exchange related to power.
Special thanks to contributors Bukola Koiki, Libby Werbel, Nick Tobier, manuel arturo abreu, Nicki Green, Molly Zuckerman Hartung, A. Laurie Palmer, Crystal Z Campbell, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Yaelle S. Amir, Jea Alford, Ariana Jacob, Susan Cuffaro, Sean Cumming, Brian Dolber, Hannah Gioia, Anna Gray, Patricia Vázquez Gómez, Cat Hollis, Anna Neighbor, Larissa Petrucci, Emmett Schlenz and Lise Soskolne, Garrick Imatani, Lynn Yarne, and Lu Yim, garima thakur, Sharita Towne.