My Self, the (First) Breath
Live-performance + video work + glass installation
Duration: ca. 30:00 minutes
The ‘My Self’ series is an ongoing research series about the Self and the identification process.
This fifth part of the ‘My Self’ series is about ‘breath’ and the act of ‘gasping, questioning individuality and the relation to the collective; taken that the magical first breath by a newborn is the first step towards 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 symbiotic 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 becoming part of an herd. The handmade glass objects that are part of the work are conceptual representations of the birth channel, the womb, the individual and the collective. With these objects the artist interacts during the live performance and in totality represents the work as an installation after the live performance. These are therefore also a significant part of the work.
In a time that we covered 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.”
* The research for this work began in polluted China (2019), continued in the Netherlands affected by COVID-19, and has reached its final fulfilment in the crisp air of Iceland (2021).
© Lisette Ros
© Visuals: Marieke Gras, Sadie Cook, John Manceau, Lisette Ros