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April 22, 2024, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy  

Italian artist Lorenzo Quinn’s sculpture “Support”. Photo:

Italian artist Lorenzo Quinn’s sculpture “Support”. Photo:

Panel Discussion: Vulnerability

As part of CYFEST 15 International Media Art Festival

Monday, April 22, 5 PM

Ca’Foscari, University of Venice

Aula Mario Baratto (Mario Baratto Conference Hall), 2nd Floor

Dorsoduro 3246

The panel will bring renowned thinkers and practitioners from the fields of Arts, Science, Technology, and Design to discuss the value of vulnerability. 

Ursula le Guin wrote about the openness she thought was vital in creative work: “so that death finds me at all times, and on all sides exposed, unfortressed, undefended, inviolable, vulnerable, alive”. 

Vulnerability may be thought of as meaning that one is at risk in a number of possible ways. One could be physically, emotionally, financially, or socially vulnerable,e and it is natural to try to defend against falling into such a state. However, the barriers that are built to keep vulnerability at bay may also keep out other influences, sensations, ideas, relationships and possibilities.

In collaboration, it is vital to be open to possibilities that may unsettle or disturb habits, identity, and ways of engaging with the world. Holding on to established ideas, even ideas that have delivered success, advances in thinking and practice, and status, may limit or frustrate innovation. High performing teams can arise out of a culture that protects or even promotes vulnerability.

The 1948 UN Declaration of Human Rights established the need to protect human dignity. How would it be to seek to protect our mutual vulnerability? In a time of climate emergency and mass biodiversity loss, could we consider extending this to the more than human world? For this to be possible, many other changes dealing with social and ecological justice would be necessary. 

The panel will explore these and other aspects of vulnerability in Venice: a city that embodies a precarious, vulnerable position, whilst remaining a beacon of vibrant culture and contemporary arts and design.

Chair / Convenor 

Alan Boldon

Panel contributors

Alice Oswald, celebrated poet and gardener

Sha Xin Wei, Director of Synthesis and Professor School of Arts, Media + Engineering at Arizona State University

Muriel Mambrini-Doudet, 1st Research Director, French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development, Doctoral program lead at the Learning Planet Institute

Brian MacCraith, Physicist, Senior Advisor to the President, Arizona State University (ASU); Chair, External Oversight Body of the Irish Defence Forces; Chair, Gaelic Players Association (GPA); Former President, Dublin City University (2010–2020)

Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas, artists, educators, and co-founders of Urbonas Studio, an interdisciplinary research practice for the transformation of civic spaces and collective imaginaries

Panel Discussion: Vulnerability


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