My team at the ART/DATA/HEALTH project produced a review of early artistic responses to Covid-19, which has been published in the The Polyphony: conversations across the medical humanities. The article offers insights into how emerging artwork tackles key issues arising from the crisis.
The conditions of isolation in the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic have been linked to a surge of creativity, both for practicing artists and individuals with little previous engagement with the arts. This article traces some early artistic responses to Covid-19, and offers preliminary insights into recurring themes suggested by these creative engagements, including the affective experience of isolation, the symbolic and material meanings of home, and the importance of connection with digital technologies. Whilst the mask emerges as a key symbol of the crisis, artists are also preoccupied with visualising the virus itself, and tackling social issues such as the upsurge of racism and domestic abuse. These artistic expressions play a central role in making sense of what has been termed ‘the new normal’ of social distancing, in navigating waves of information about deaths and infections worldwide, and, perhaps most importantly, in imagining the future.