about the exhibition

Curated by Terri Thornton
Fort Worth Contemporary Arts
August 25 – October 27, 2012

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The word “power,” in western culture, most readily conjures ideas of aggression and force. We have Freidrich Nietzsche’s theory of man’s unavoidable “will to power” and the power that contemporary artist, Jenny Holzer refers to in a 1984 text from her Truism series: ABUSE OF POWER COMES AS NO SURPRSE. The philosophical work of Michel Foucault determines that power does exist in individuals and that “power is exercised only over free subjects and only in so far as they are free.” Then there is the quick-witted, 19th century provocateur Oscar Wilde’s dictum, “Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.”

But there is also Tich Naht Hanh’s eastern philosophical perspective of the five true powers being faith, diligence, mindfulness, concentration and insight. As a state or as an expression, the ideation of power is widespread across cultures and time in both concept and practice, making it worthy of serious consideration, an act of power in and of itself.

“Place for me is the locus of desire.”  —Lucy Lippard, Lure of the Local 

However, perhaps to counter a perceived dominance of the pow in power, my fascination with the phrase “where is the power” grew to encompass a more abstract curiosity of its linguistic and, structural capacity as a statement as well as a question and more generally, the possibilities for varied meaning in a grouping of words absent punctuation or case. Could “where” function as a noun, a functional shift or conversion, making “where” in where is the power an indication of place? Place is the power, as in “location, location, location.” Admittedly, this has been a strange compulsion that may have no end but it has been a satisfying vein to mine. Embracing linguistic flexibility has not only changed “where” in where is the power, it has opened up the potential for power.

Among other things, my research and investigation has reinforced an alliance with Socrates’ stance that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” This exhibition has been an incredible opportunity to test the conceptual potential of “where is the power” in a new and broader context and I truly appreciate The Galleries of TCU curator, Christina Rees for extending the invitation, the gallery committee for approving it and Devon Nowlin for her assistance in pulling together the details. My position as an amateur curator (amateur from the old French “lover of”) is one I take very seriously and has put me in mind of  the warning Peter Parker, AKA Spider-man, received from his Uncle Ben, “with great power comes great responsibility.”

Terri Thornton is an artist living and working in Fort Worth, Texas with a BFA from the University of North Texas and a MFA from the University of Dallas. As Curator of Education at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth since 1994 Thornton has met, worked with and learned from a number of great artists, some of whom are represented in this exhibition.

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