The ‘My Self’ series is an ongoing research series about the Self and the identification process.
For this fifth part of the ‘My Self’ series I research ‘breath’ and the act of ‘gasping’. I research this in the context of individualization; taken that the first breath of a fetus is the first step towards individualization/becoming an individual.
From the uterus, children share their breath with their mother; after they leave their mother’s womb they become independent by breathing on their own: breathing corresponds to the first autonomous gesture of the living human being. Though, at the same time, individually breathing also means to share air with others for the first time, collectively. Thus, this detachment from the mother attaches the fetus with the environment and others. Breath seems to be the sign of the beginning and the end of life.
This first breath starts with a magical gasp coming out of the birth channel, becoming an individual as well as an herd animal.
In a time that we cover our breath behind a mask to not spread a possible virus, we’re all noticing how important it is to breath freely and how it connects us, literally and figuratively. The value of breath is more than all wealth and power one can have in life, which immediately highlights the societal relevance.
I can (still) breath in my own way, but the air will never simply be mine.
* My research began in polluted China (2019), continued in the Netherlands affected by COVID-19, and has reached its final fulfillment in the crisp air of Iceland (2021).
Live performance: 30-10-2021 as part of the ‘SHALLOW THEN HALO’ exhibition.
Prinsengracht 675, Amsterdam.
© Lisette Ros
© Visuals: Sadie Cook, John Manceau, Lisette Ros