In 2020, DARIAH selected two streams of funding as part of the Theme funding call, ‘Arts Exchanges’ and ‘Arts, Humanities and COVID-19’. The call attracted a high number of well articulated and competitive applications, mainly addressing, perhaps not surprisingly, the topic of ‘Arts, Humanities and COVID-19’.
With an overall budget of 87.920 €, DARIAH funded nine projects for a year (December 2020 – December 2021). This series presents their results with a special focus on each of these projects.
Electronic Literature (e-lit) and Covid 19
Coordinator: Søren Bro Pold (Aarhus University)
How is the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting measures, and movement of cultural life online reflected in electronic literature and other digital narrative practices online? This project aimed to develop an analytical research study, an open-access research collection, an online exhibition and a critical study of electronic literature and digital art produced during the time of a pandemic.
As part of the Electronic Literature Organization’s conference, Platform (Post?) Pandemic hosted in May 2021, the project team launched an open call for art works. The call was successful and led to the launch of the exhibition on May 1st, 2021 with 23 exhibited works. At the opening, the artists were invited to present their work to an audience of about 50-100 participants.
When we started discussing the Covid 19 and electronic literature, we reflected on the fact that, while there are many public memorials related to wars, there are very few related to epidemics and diseases. Apart from the horrible scenes we have seen from hospitals around the world, the everyday of the pandemic has for many of us mostly been visible through its lack of the normal, as closed down, deserted cities.
There is something unrepresentable about a pandemic caused by an invisible virus. This exhibition portrays all this through art and electronic literature as, we hope, an already historical monument of life under the pandemic. We believe the exhibition demonstrates that the pandemic, besides all its horrors and cancellations, has also been a genuine moment for art and electronic literature.
Curatorial statement: Anna Nacher, Søren Pold, and Scott Rettberg
You can visit the exhibition here: https://www.eliterature.org/elo2021/covid/
Read the curatorial statement here: https://www.eliterature.org/elo2021/covid/covid-elit-statement.pdf
The following months, the project team also planned physical versions of the exhibition at the University of Bergen, at Roskilde Library, in Bergen and Krakow. From the exhibition, the team also created a living research collection, which continues to be updated: https://elmcip.net/research-collection/pandemic-e-lit.
In-depth interviews and documentary
The project team interviewed 18 different artists behind 13 works during March and April 2021. These interviews led to the creation of a full documentary by an enthusiastic project member and journalist, Ashleigh Steele. This 45 minute documentary is believed to be an important historical document, especially as the distance grows between the present and the pandemic.
The documentary entitled COVID E-LIT: Digital Art During the Pandemic follows the experiences of digital artists of the early COVID-19 pandemic throughout the United States, South America, and Europe. Through interviews with each artist, the documentary explores how measures taken to control the pandemic affected their artistic practice, ability to engage collaborators and audiences, daily life, and – most crucially – the subjects of the art they produced. It invites viewers to draw parallels between their experiences of the pandemic and those of the artists, while immersing them in the artworks that are the film’s focus.
The documentary has already been shown at several events, including the Oslo International Poetry Festival (June, 2021), Digital Culture at Bergen University (Sept. 21), Creativity and Resilience in Times of Covid-19 (Aarhus Institute of Advance Studies, Aarhus University, November 21), Skt Interface Day at Interface Culture dept, Kunst Universität Linz (December 21).
* DARIAH Theme is an annual thematic priority set by the Board of Directors of DARIAH-EU. The aim is to stimulate activities and events related to an important topic of research in the digitally enabled arts and humanities by issuing a call for funding.