The Power Plant - 231 Queens Quay W, Toronto, Ontario M5J 2G8
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“We must reclaim the lungs of our world with a view to forging new ground. Human-kind and biosphere are one.” – Achille Mbembe, The Universal Right to Breathe
BREATHLESS is published as part of the BREATHLESS exhibition that took place within a pavilion on The Power Plant’s South Terrace in the Summer of 2022.
BREATHLESS shares contributions on the paradoxes of air, atmosphere and the breath with key texts and artworks. The book begins in the smog of our current predicament, with philosopher Dehlia Hannah proposing a new vocabulary for air in her text, “Inversion Layer”. Following the flow of air, Flaka Haliti’s installation “Speculating on the Blue” opens a portal to an artificial atmosphere that defines boundaries of a closed reality. Connecting to parallel worlds, philosopher Achille Mbembe’s “The Universal Right to Breathe” captures a global perspective on breathing, offering alternative trajectories beyond suffocation. Marguerite Humeau’s speculative sculpture imagines a species that survives suffocation and evolves exclusively to breathe. Charles Stankievech exhumes the voices of Clarice Lispector and Lygia Clark as an interconnected mystical encounter in a text titled “Breath with Me, A Breath of Life”. In “Twilight of Sighs”, psychoanalyst and philosopher Alireza Taheri analyzes the sigh with a set of propositions. With the same intensity, Donna Kukama re-narrates history with her performance “Chapter Q: Dem Short-Short-Falls” as she breathes the memory of an invisible event. Invisibility of viral and virtual particles are positioned in the context of other historical times in Ala Roushan’s text “Air of Our Closed World”, articulating the inversion experienced today within the domestic bubble/bunker. “The Air Without” by Kate Whiteway connects illness and metaphor to consider contradictions in the air that both oxygenates the lung while breathing diamond dust. With a granularity greater than dust, Heather Davis’s text “Molecular Intimacy” situates us at the nanoscale to position bodies within the atmosphere they breathe. This final text loops back to the start of the book in considering the air of our contemporary sky and the breath that exists in its precarious state. Under this arched sky, the book ends with “Fire with Fire”, engulfed in the smoky aftermath of forest fires in the work of Julius von Bismarck.
Editor: Ala Roushan
Designer: Raf Rennie
Publisher: The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery
The Power Plant is Canada's leading art gallery devoted exclusively to contemporary art by artists from Canada and the world. We aim to share art with wider audiences through free admission to our exhibitions, public programs, and educational publications.