The Vulnerable Society reading group

From_Guantanamo_v-mbradfield2(Jack Tan, From Guantanamo, 2013, still from performance. Photo: Marsha Bradfield)

On Thurs 13 Dec, as part of Jade Montserrat’s exhibition ‘Instituting Care’ at Bluecoat Liverpool, I will be facilitating a discussion about ‘vulnerability’ as an organising concept for artistic practice, law/policy and institutions. We will be reading Martha Fineman’s seminal article ‘The Vulnerable Subject’ (Yale Journal of Law & Feminism, Issue 1, 2008):

‘I argue that vulnerability is–and should be understood to be–universal and constant, inherent in the human condition … the “vulnerable subject” must replace the autonomous and independent subject asserted in the liberal tradition. …Currently, dominant political and legal theories … presume the liberal subject is a competent social actor capable of playing multiple and concurrent societal roles: the employee, the employer, the spouse, the parent, the consumer, the manufacturer, the citizen, the taxpayers, and so on.’

‘The vulnerability subject does what the one-dimensional liberal subject approach cannot: it embodies the fact that human reality encompasses a wide range of differing and interdependent abilities over the span of a lifetime… that individuals are anchored at each end of their lives by dependency and the absence of capacity… Contemplating our shared vulnerability it becomes apparent that human beings need each other, and that we must structure our institutions in response to this fundamental human reality.’

QUESTION: Alongside the Entrepreneur, the Sporting Hero, the Rebel, is the Artist not one of the most successful metaphors for the competent, capable, self-made and self-sufficient liberal subject?

Click here, to book a ticket.