Elisabeth Tonnard

The Power of the Powerless

Not a book but a gesture.

In my work I have explored white spaces since 2003 as a method to suggest rather than erase. Even if the suggestion was that the omnipresent Plan may be empty.

I have been struck by the recent street protests in China in which blank sheets of paper are used to defy censorship. The sheets serve effortlessly to indicate everything that should be expressed. Something so small, simple, and yet universal.

The title of The Power of the Powerless is a reference to Václav Havel’s essay of that same title. It speaks of the power that those who are not in power have through simply no longer living (as if) in obedience to the system. No longer “doing” the lies. Something relevant not only in totalitarian states but wherever system tries to dominate life and replace actual experience. The blank of this paper can never be totally contained by those who want to control it.

Published in Leerdam, The Netherlands, December 2022.

Free to enjoy as an idea.

For those who find themselves inclined to purchase:

Edition limited to 40 numbered copies.

12 x 19 cm cover, handmade, inkjet printed, with in it a loose blank A4 sheet.

Priced at € 50,- plus shipping. Order through the webshop or by email.

Available in the collections of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Clark Art Institute, Jan Michalski Foundation for Writing and Literature, National Library of The Netherlands (Koninklijke Bibliotheek), Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte (Munich).

Written by Elisabeth Tonnard

December 1, 2022 at 5:58 pm