Ilene Berman

vulnerability in social practice

Shared, expressed vulnerability is a key component to caring relationships. Socially engaged artists, myself included, often withhold expressions of our own vulnerability. This leads to relationships that perpetuate harmful power structures. It was not easy for me to learn to be vulnerable with my collaborators. However, I have no doubt that this shared vulnerability is at the heart of our ability to challenge the status quo.

These slides are fragments of a talk that my husband, Scott Berman, and I gave at the “Arts and Moral Development” conference in Birmingham, England. Although I take issue with the presumption of art creating moral development, we took part in the conference because we think it is crucial for artists and arts institutions, especially those who want to work with vulnerable populations, to think about the ways in which they hold onto power in those relationships.

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Ilene Berman