Shielding, a project led by the University of Brighton’s Dr Aristea Fotopoulou, is bringing to attention the pandemic’s impact on women facing domestic abuse.
The Shielding installation, which launches online on Friday 9 October, is the latest addition to the ART/DATA/HEALTH research project, which uses data as creative material for health and wellbeing and is led by Dr Fotopoulou, a Principal Lecturer in the School of Media who is a UKRI Innovation Fellow/AHRC Leadership Fellow.
As part of the online Brighton Fringe, which runs throughout October, artist Anna Dumitriu has collaborated with domestic abuse charity RISE to create a sculptural installation exploring how Covid-19 has affected women facing violence, and the paradoxical meaning of home as shelter.
The commission combines crafts that are often traditionally used by women, such as sewing and embroidery, with 3D printing based on digital reconstructions of hospital beds from the first temporary hospitals in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak of coronavirus was first concentrated.
With their rows of identical beds, Dumitriu invites the public to rethink ideas of public and private. The doll-sized beds are also a nod to the Henrik Ibsen play ‘A Doll’s House’ (1879), which deals with the fate of a married woman in a male dominated world.
The project ingeniously uses actual coronavirus DNA in a completely safe way, with Dumitriu including the bio-materials in an attempt to confront feelings about the pandemic, with the artwork becoming an authentic relic of the laboratory and research processes the world is pinning its hopes on.
Dumtriu and Dr Fotopoulou will be taking part in a free Q&A on Friday 9 October between 1pm-2pm to discuss the production of the artwork, the focus of the piece and how art can create meaning from complex health data and uncover hidden narratives.
Dr Fotopoulou’s ART/DATA/HEALTH project aims to build a bridge between the data, creativity and experiential stories, bringing data to life through unconventional means. She said: “Health and wellbeing data are collected in so many ways nowadays, for example by health practitioners, by employers and by people themselves, using fitness trackers or mobile phones. We see data represented visually in the media, but sometimes it is difficult to understand how these data have been interpreted. Data can’t tell the whole story. In this project, I am interested in bringing people’s experiences and stories to the surface, as they try to live a healthier life.
“The project brings together a community of artists, service workers, researchers and people living in Brighton and Hove, online and offline to use creative media, storytelling and data analytics in order to explore evidence around health and wellbeing. My focus is to help people gain essential skills in order to be able to work with digital data.”
With physical, creative workshops cancelled due to the pandemic, Dumitriu has designed and prepared an art kit for participants which can be accessed online. The creative activity prompts those taking part to imagine what a room of their own would look like.
The project is just one part of Dr Fotopoulou’s recent focus on Covid-19, with 104 days later: a lockdown story also part of Brighton Fringe. The online, multimedia scrollable story which brings to life data collected through a survey with national statistics, through first person testimonies of dealing with the government restrictions which were originally introduced on 23 March 2020.
Tickets for both events are free via the Brighton Fringe website and the projects are supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).