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Transparent boundaries as scenographies of trust: the COVID-19 pandemic from the view of material cultural studies and artistic works
  1. Monika Ankele1,2,
  2. Céline Kaiser2
  1. 1 Ethics, Collections and History of Medicine, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
  2. 2 Institute for Medical & Health Humanities and Artistic Research (IMHAR), Hochschule für Künste im Sozialen, Ottersberg, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Dr Monika Ankele, Ethics, Collections and History of Medicine, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria; monika.ankele{at}


From the start, the profound transformations that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic found expression in a plethora of objects and facilities that dominated our daily lives far beyond the clinical sphere. Supermarkets, hotel receptions, taxis, restaurants, doctors’ surgeries and even schools were equipped with plexiglass screens of all sizes and shapes to continue to allow face-to-face encounters. In our paper, we trace these changes and their social impact in our everyday world. Starting from the material cultures of our daily spaces that changed in the context of COVID-19 and the new patterns of movement that had to be practised, we ask how our sensory modes of perception and social spaces changed temporarily. With the methodological approaches offered to us by material cultural studies and artistic practices, we pursue these questions on the one hand with historical examples of the clinical design of space and on the other with a view to artistic interventions that deal with the pandemic present and reflect the transparent boundary markings in their meaning for sensual and social inter-relations.

  • COVID-19
  • history
  • art
  • medical humanities

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  • Contributors Both authors equally planned and wrote the paper.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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