Breathworks

Participatory arts and video installation. Modern Art Oxford, 2020-21.

Breathworks began as a digital participatory project led by Lucy Sabin, Creative Associate (Digital) at Modern Art Oxford. The gallery’s audiences were invited to capture an experience related to breathing, submitting an image and 20-60 seconds of audio via an online form specifically designed for the project.

Breathworks was originally conceived in January 2020, yet adapted in response to the respiratory pandemic of COVID-19 and the antiracist protests against breathlessness in all its forms. The project’s scope grew from an online exhibition into an events programme and video installation as part of the ‘Responsive Space’ exhibition at MAO (2nd October 2020 – 18 April 2021 [subject to gallery closures]).

Breathworks featured on BBC Arts, Art Daily, a-n The Artists Information Company, and The Oxford Times.

Video montage with 32 ‘breathworks’, Responsive Space, Modern Art Oxford, 2020-21.

Breathworks made breath and breathlessness visible beyond the clinical or biological framings that might sometimes contain respiratory narratives (Macnaughton 2020; Mbembe 2020). In responding to the theme of breathing through creative engagement, participants drew attention to both microcosmic stirrings and seismic ripples. The resultant body of audiovisual works spans multiple scales and includes beyond human perspectives, highlighting ecological connections and expanded imaginaries of breath’s importance and scope.

– Lucy Sabin in ‘Following Breathing’ (2021).