As part of its inaugural program, Terms presents a two-pronged analysis of the concept of “vulnerability.” Derived from the Latin verb vulnerare which means “to wound,” the word refers in its broad definition to the susceptibility to be harmed or sensitivity to be affected. “Vulnerability” is therefore understood, at its base, in its relational dimension and raises issues of autonomy and dependence, but also of personal integrity, social justice and collective responsibility. If the word contains the idea of exposure or openness to risk, it also evokes determination and resilience in the face of peril and the unequal distribution of its impacts.
The contributions presented in Terms’ Part 1 and 2 take up a nuanced conception of “vulnerability” and move away from an antagonistic view of the word. The featured authors and artists featured turn their gaze to the often hidden forms of vulnerability and question their causes and repercussions, paying close attention to their structural or coordinated dimensions.
VULNERABILITY – PART 1
The first edition of Terms offers a reflection in three parts on the term and notion of “vulnerability” from the perspective of labour and migration rights. The project features two essays—one by researcher and community organizer Mostafa Henaway and the other by writer and editor Yaniya Lee—as well as an artwork from the late 1960s by Canadian visual artist and filmmaker Joyce Wieland.
VULNERABILITY – PART 2
The second edition of Terms continues the reflection initiated in Part 1 on the term and notion of “vulnerability,” this time considering it from the angle of information technologies and computer security. Read texts by researcher in law, policy, and computer security Yuan Stevens, and by artist, researcher, and cultural worker Anne-Marie Trépanier, and watch videos by artist Elizabeth Vander Zaag from the late 1970s and early 1980s.
This component concludes the first chapter of Terms addressing the word vulnerability.
How does a term circulate through society, and how does its dissemination within contemporary discourse inform us about the way that society thinks about itself? By what means do certain words instill themselves in language and the public sphere to the point of becoming commonplace? Terms is an online discursive and artistic program presented in the years to come, that individually unpacks a series of broad and polysemous terms that are employed today to address a range of sociopolitical issues in contemporary society. While some words acquire multiple definitions the more they are used, they also often tend to become generalized and run the risk of having their meaning become diluted, confused, or unclear over time. Nevertheless, their continued presence in our vocabulary requires careful attention and analysis as to their etymological value, their semantic density, and their use across and beyond disciplinary boundaries.
Terms looks at how these widely disseminated key words echo within different forms of research, writing, and works of art. For each selected term, a researcher from outside the visual arts will publish a text that examines it in all its variants, tensions, and ambiguities through the specific lens of their field of activity. The word will then be considered by pairing it with a designated artwork shared on the Gallery’s website. In turn, a writer from the cultural sector will use this same work as the starting point for a second text that draws from the first and from beyond to probe some aspects of the term in its various dimensions.