"Online Lockdown Diaries as Endurance Art." AI & Society, 2021.

Guobin Yang

When the city of Wuhan was severely locked down on January 23, 2020 for 76 days due to the coronavirus outbreak, many residents started writing “lockdown diaries.” This article argues these diaries constitute a kind of performance art for their authors, specifically, an 'art of endurance' as described by Shalson (2018). Keeping a diary requires a plan, but the following through of the plan is a contingent process requiring efforts and endurance. The challenges become particularly daunting for authors of online diaries in pandemic times. The article analyzes multiple types of endurance associated with the Wuhan lockdown diarists, showing that in digitally-driven environments, where potential collective responses are a key context, the lockdown diaries of Wuhan, like works of endurance art, engage with meanings that reach far beyond their original experience and context. Their stories of endurance are an allegory of the endurance of the entire city of Wuhan.