Individual Work

Danish poet Bianca Fløe’s “Melankofil” [English translation: Melanchophilic] is a poetry project published on Instagram over the course of one year, from May 2016 to May 2017. The now finished projects consists of 291 posts, all with the same selfie of herself. The selfie(s) all have a transparent black band below her face containing a short sentence, which can each be seen separately, as the subtitle suggests; a collection of poems about a year”, or it can be seen as one coherent poetic performance separated into Instagram posts.

Bianca Fløe was one of the first Danish poets to be called an instapoet. This was as a result of her project @trylleformuleringer, where she was posting 4 posts a day for a year as a sort of “live” and dynamic making of a poetry collection, which was then published in print. Following this proejct, she initiated other projects on Instagram; @etselfieomdagen, @melankofil and @kaskeflothval. This entry will deal with the @melankofil project which was created half a year after @trylleformuleringer was finished.

Fløe is also known as one of the founders of CopenOpen, Copenhagen Slam Poetry festival, writing regular print poetry, being a slam poet, producing decoupage pieces, as well as in the past experimenting with SMS literature, a project from the now defunct SMSPress publishing company where you could sign up to get novels in the form of SMSs from the author writing directly to you over the course of a specific time period.

All of Fløe's Instagram projects could be considered belonging to what Leonorado Flores call third generation electronic literature (Flores, 2019). Though we should perhaps use the term carefully, as a lot of cultural expressions by nature of our contemporary digital life are being put online, without necessarily loosing anything when they are remediated other places. This would be the case with @trylleformuleringer where the crucial elements of the poetry are mere colorful texts on colorful backgrounds. Even if it possible to argue for the environment’s effect on consumption and, and the fact that the actual experiment was about producing something “live”, the finished wors could easily be remediated into a printed poetry collection.The use of the medium therefore plays a small part in the literary exchange, and the works are not necessarily born digital, even if they are first produced and distributed and read in a digital environment.

What makes @Melankofil third generation electronic literature on the other hand, is specifically the more explicit use and incorporation of the social media affordances to realize it, where the platform's affordances are more central to the realization of the work, and are also being utilized as a part of the poetic platformed performance.

Melankofil consists of 291 posts with no captions or hashtags.

The Melankofil-project has two ways of viewing it. One which is now lost to us, as it was ephemeral and time specific, and the other way, still available to us now, which stands as a finished database of the posts published through the year from the account.

For followers of the account, at the time of the project, the updates would be published in the followers’ feeds over the course of one year. While for us looking at it now, we are getting a condensed version where everything comes to us at us at once as we turn scroll from bottom to top, or through clicking our way chronologically to the end. Like looking in a photo album depicting a year of events condensed into pictures spread over a set amount of pages. Experienced like this, the time passes more quickly for us as readers.

The second way of reading it is also addressed in the “bio text” in the profile heade. The text translates to what could be a subtitle; “poems from a year that has passed”. While this second way of reading it could more easily be remediated into print, the primary way – the passed performance of it – has an ephemerality and instantaneously to it that greatly draws upon the affordances of the posting of Instagram posts, depicting moments of a life as it happens.

The work as poetic performance and a poetic album of a year passed
The selfie looks like a selfie taken by using a specific filter from snapchat. This is strengthened by the black transparent band, where the text is,as it is resembling the default mode of writing on top of a photo in snapchat before sending it (at the time of production). The work therefore remediates another social medium which has perhaps one of the strongest ephemeral affordances of all social media; Snapchat.

The texts on top of the selfies are always addressed to someone (in this instance: the one the snap is being sent to), but that “you” is not me, as in the reader/viewer/follower, but some specific “you”, a former lover or someone who she once had a romantic relationship with. There is often also a “him”, and in the last post it is revealed to the “you” that the “him” in the other posts was also “you”.

The sentences making up the texts vary from very bluntly short statements like “I miss my psychologist” [English translation] to “I have used your smile as a way to shield myself against another man’s collarbone” [English translation], but they are also all related to each other as posts – as instances in a life – which through being posted on this account is being related to each other, stored in the same database that the account works as. A photo album of a specific time.

However (as mentioned earlier), even if the time changes, and the text changes, the selfie remains the same – as if she is standing still – not being able to move on in life. With the selfie, as the ultimate genre of self-representation from the place of the taker, the poem becomes autofictional and confessional, and in this way placing itself in the contemporary trends of literature and poetry.

Through this performance, or of viewing this album afterwards, we read through and experience a poetic performance of the love relations of the author – Bianca – to an unnamed someone, throughout a year. The whole work, all individual posts, join in becoming a single poetic performance or poem – a poem which have been stretched out over a year – both in actual performance, and by the timestamps of the posts as we view them now. Time passes, she stays the same. But, as the subtitle says; the year has passed, and we are left to fill in the blanks, through the later projects of her in other media – if she ever moved on.