What is Power?

Art and Power

What is power? Today’s #CoffeeTalk thoughts are on-how do we value what #power is? A high position? A lot of money? Connections? Followers? Or could power be inner strength and not making the things mentioned above the priority of what we strive for or value as a society? Coffee Talk thoughts also on how much power does art have? As a tool for resistance or for propaganda and as an industry. Here are some Coffee Talk spontaneous thoughts: 

With great power comes great responsibility, a saying even used in Spider-Man (by Stan Lee). A comic where a spider / man saves people. This is the good side of what we think of power-so is this why some people strive for it? And so do we perceive power as a responsibility? About the ability to share with others? Create ripple effects and build communities? 

Or does the mention of the word power corrupt itself - in a sense even with the best of intentions, does power corrupt the essence of goodness and how do we keep in check? - tools such as technology and social media create bonds and gives us all the potential to have a voice but it also creates barriers into knowing what is outside of our own bubble or chosen community and therefore our perception of what one does and what it means in the world can be sometimes misconceived. A similar bubble that exists in any given industry. When we work long hours without rest or proper lunch hours our perception of power dynamics and what is important in the world may become blurred-similarly in politics power makes certain heads of state believe their own hype and not see beyond their own circle. 

So how much #power does #art have? As a tool it can create bonds between communities, heal trauma, depression and loneliness. It can also help with empathy and build bridges, be a tool to document, recall, collect, resist and take back the power that either people or governments may take from us. It is a way to express our emotions or issues in the world, bring forth different perspectives than “powers” (political or not-such as TV) may want to feed us. 

As an industry, it isn’t probably any different to other industries-a business with hierarchies and relations. Perhaps banks link up to art for a power dynamic image. The industry is now facing having to explain why many museums and institutions allied with so many companies or people that have unfolded to be corrupt or unethical. And so could we say that we used to associate power with money and do we still do so? Now more and more we as a society, or collective voices are putting pressure on some, looking up to those who are ethical and seem to be doing the right thing for the world and society and asking those who aren't to change. This is also power. 

How will tech affect our own powers? In a way we now all have a voice because of technology, it’s like a democratic image tool that put us all on the same playing field-until when the amount of followers became important, money and ads came into play, power dynamics then changed. And what with lack of privacy laws and citizen protection, what happens to the power of our voice? Will it be harder and harder for people to speak out and even protest?

Art has often been used as a protest tool-that is why so many people in power have tried to stop artists throughout history, recognising that art is a power tool. As well as, knowledge is power (Sir Francis Bacon 1597), and why so many states have tried to stop people gaining knowledge or education. 

Though sometimes we feel helpless when someone has power over us, we also have power over them, but the way things have been structured around us in the world, has meant that fear has sometimes been an element in the power dynamics.

Perhaps feeling more empathetic towards each other or injecting empathy in the way we run our society, listening to the other side, then each dynamic with its own power and perspective could come together and create an exchange of ideas rather than a power dynamic of up down approach. Art can play a part in this exchange and speak when we may sometimes fear to. 

If as Foucault states, power is everywhere, then power is also in places we may not think it is. It is not just in the places and with the people that claim it but in aspects we may not think of straight away. The word soft power comes to mind and all that entails through art and culture. 

It is true to say that with power comes great responsibility, however maybe even without power we should take responsibility for each other and that should not be lost through the wires or through our screens. 

Power and art and power are such large topics, but through our coffee, chatted about these different elements and what came to mind spontaneoulsy. 

What do you all think power means? And how much power do you think art has? Should we inject more empathy in our society?