When I was appointed director of the 2003 Venice Biennale more than a year ago, I admit that the idea was abstract and the power attached to this idea was even more abstract. Did I look powerful, all of a sudden? Some people see themselves as powerful in the mirror. Short people see themselves tall, bald people see themselves with hair, oldish people (like me) see themselves older, and blind people just see themselves. All because of power.
But power has no sign, symbol or scale. You can’t see power. When you get into an alleged position of power you want to touch it, eat it, wear it, chew it, see it in your own eyes… but it’s not possible. Power is, after all, frustration is disguise. The more power you have the more frustrated you are because it cannot be visualized or made real. Power is not real if you are real. You can’t sell or exchange power, you have to use it.
I once said that all names in the art world are written in pencil, so to be powerful in the art world would mean, according to this philosophy, to play the role of the eraser. Still, this is not by any means a better or more satisfying form or power because once you have erased everybody you are just… a powerful eraser. Power is not fame, yet people make this mistake all too often. To be the only naked homeless person in your neighbourhood will make you very famous but not powerful. Yet if being naked will force people not to go to the restaurant that you choose to sit in from of, you could be considered to have some kind of power. Similarly, in the art world, power means to have a long lasting function. Be naked, be yourself for a long, long time, until people switch sidewalks not to meet you. As you lose all your power you became powerful. Every time you force someone to change direction or their way of thinking about power, you execute power.
Personally I think that the only form of power that works is the power of curiosity, which keeps you wondering if people know who you are. Power is a tool to transform acquaintances into friends just before all your power is gone. Power is not by any means bad by nature, so if you are blessed with some kind of power always keep in mind that power is like a carton of milk; do not forget to look for the expiry date. The milk that last too long never tastes as good as the fresh one. And then when business class starts feeling like home you better try economy. The power trip you took will soon be over.