Breathing

The art project “breathing” is carried out partly on the Internet and partly as exhibition projects starting in Iceland, May 2002 and so far continuing in Denmark, September-October 2002 and Sweden, September-December 2003.

In the winter of 2001/2002 we contacted people in 35 countries around the world by sending a white cardboard box containing the following:

a letter
a white folder containing the artwork ”breathing”, consisting of seven pieces of paper with text and drawings
a roll of double sided tape
a note book
a pencil
a disposable camera
a return envelope

In the letter we requested a response three weeks and this forms an important part of the exhibitions and this web-site.

With the starting point in our art we are suggesting a dialogue with people in other parts of the world - and in the second phase a dialogue between the participants and that between anyone else who might be interested.

The art project “breathing” is supported by the Danish Contemporary Art Foundation (DCA) and Fondet af 1. juli 1981.

 

Pakkhúsið, Hornafjörður, Iceland, May - June 2002
Pakkhúsið is situated on the harbour of the fisher town Höfn í Hornafjörður in south-east Iceland. Until 1972 the town was only connected to Reykjavik by boat. The building stems from 1930 and it was originally a storehouse. A few years ago, in 1999, after a gentle rebuilding that preserved the original wooden walls, floor and ceiling; it became the culture house of the town.

Charlottenborg Exhibition Hall, Copenhagen, Denmark, September, October 2002
Charlottenborg Exhibition Hall is situated on Kongens Nytorv, the central square of Copenhagen. Since 1883 an important part of the Copenhagen established art scene has taken place here. Throughout the year Charlottenborg shows alternate Danish and international exhibitions of contemporary art in the lofty rooms.

Vitehall Exhibition Hall, Kungsbacka, Sweden, September - October 2003
Kungsbacka, a commercial town just south of Gothenburg, dates from the 13th century. In 1846 the old wooden town was more or less destroyed by fire and was rebuilt around the turn of the following century. In 1994 the Exhibition Hall Vitehall with its characteristic round form was erected by architect Christer Håkansson. Vitehall is a part of the very active culture centre Fyren which also houses a large library, a concert hall, a café and a culture school for children.

letter

Winter 2002

Dear

This parcel is out of 35 which will be sent out as part of an art project during the next couple of months. The title of this project is "breathing". This is an invitation to be part of the project.

The people to whom we are sending this are all people we either know or who are known to people we know. The parcel will be sent to the following countries:

Australia    Finland    Iceland    Lithuania    Spain
Brasilia    France    India    Macao    Switzerland
Britain    Germany    Iran    Morocco    Sweden
Canada    Greece    Israel    Mongolia    South Africa
China    Greenland    Italy    New Zealand    Thailand
Denmark    Holland    Jordan    Peru    Turkey
Egypt    Hungary    Lebanon    Poland    USA
The parcel contains:

a white cardboard box containing the following:

this letter
a white folder containing the work ”breathing”, consisting of seven pieces of paper with text and drawings
a roll of double sided tape
a note book
a pencil
a disposable camera with film
a return envelope
If you would like to take part in this project we would like you to do the following:

Place the work ”breathing” (the seven sheets) somewhere in your home and leave it there for three weeks.(You can use the double sided tape).


Place note book and pencil by it for the same three weeks and use them for any possible comments. These comments could be about the art work itself, about your experience around having it there, or there could be comments from possible guests. You can write it in your own language or in English or both. It is up to you what you write, even if it is nothing.
With the disposable camera we would ask you to take the following five photos:
A photo of the piece of art where you choose to place it
A photo of the inhabitants of your home together with the piece
A photo of the note book and pencil where you choose to place it for the three weeks
A photo of the inhabitants of the home outside their house
A photo of your own choice
At the end of the three weeks we would ask you to place the camera and the note book (even if it is blank) into the return envelope and send it back to us, please.
This project will lead to web-site, a book and two exhibitions - one in Iceland and one in Denmark. The whole project will be documented here. (Naturally, your names and addresses will not be published). The exhibition will consist of: A) The documentation, B) a very long freeze of the theoretically unending work of art breathing, C) one simple long table with seven stacks of the same seven sheets, which we sent to you. The spectator will be invited to help her/him self to a series of these sheets.

If you decide to be part of this we will report back to you as the exhibition in Iceland is approaching. Of course, we will also let you know when the web-site is open. Here the participants (with Internet access) will have the opportunity to see each other’s response as well as anyone interested will be able to develop the discussion, that we wish to open.
You are very welcome to contact us if you have any queries.

We hope that you will be part of this project.

Yours sincerely

Steinunn Helga Sigurdardóttir & Hanne Godtfeldt

response

In the winter of 2001/2002 we contacted people in 35 countries around the world. These are the responds:

Australia Brazil Canada China Denmark Finland Germany Iceland India Iran Israel Italy New Zealand Sweden

Britain - a polite letter saying no thank you.
Hungary - a slip of paper saying "NO thank you", sent back with the pencil broken in two and the unused disposable camera and the empty notebook.
USA - “Return to sender. No such street number”

the notes

DAVID SMITH
MARINO, AUSTRALIA


Dave: 12/2
I think Spanne (Hanne) needs to see a Doctor. It’s bullocks

Alice: Hmmm – interesting

Oliver: put it in my room – put it in my room!

It reminds me to stop and take a few deep breaths

IS THIS FOR BLONDES?
Peter 14/2

Weird – but I do take a few extra breaths – does that mean I am wierd too??!! Tessa 15/2

At first I thought it was some sort of YOGIE escerase – couldn’t understand the spaces. Then I started to follow the instructions. Does bring some peace.

the notes by

JOSE ROBERTO SADEK
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL


February 24th
22:00 Hs
I just set the papers. This is the easiest place to have them.
My older daughter, JANA, would not sleep! She slept 3 hours this afternoon. She assists me on setting this work
This should be done by March 17t

Feb 25th
My younger daughter – LUNA – said this is very weird odd.

March 1st
Maristela, my girl friend, lives in another city. When she saw the work on the glases she said:
“What are you doing? You can’t live without inventing? Again?”
It was friendly and I told her it is not my invention, it is someone else.

March 6th
Luna wondered what is breathing. She doesn’t (???) english and the wanted a translation.


March 8th
We don’t need any order to breath.
We just do it.
We can always do it better, but we can’t avoid breathing.

March 10th
- Why do you have white s(??)s on the (???)?
- To stand the air in or out.
To kup the movement of your lungs

March 14th
Maristela said that when she read the work (breathing in / out) she felt she was very speedy, and that she should slow down.
She is very speedy!

JAN ALLEN
KINGSTON, CANADA


Sheets mounted 10:05 pm
15 Feb 2002. In the soft evening light they look as though have always been there.

16 Feb ’02
The piece presents spaced directives to breath & thus seems to encourage a considered and reflective approach to existence. I-m reading Richard Ford’s A Multitude of Sins. The story “Calling is written from the point of view of a fifteen year old boy struggling with the shift to adulthood and the spectacular disintegration of his parents’ marriage. Ford’s compassionate iteration of constancy flows through one lovely passage:

“… even under the most perfect circumstances, there would always be something imperfect that would leave you feeling not exactly good. The trick was to get used to that feeling, or risk missing what little happiness there really was.”

response of china

sorry , it was not posible to translate the chinese notebook.

FINN KUNZE
NÆSTVED, DENMARK



Sunday the 4th of November
- put on the wall


Breathing in – Jesus Christ– breathing out – Jesus Christ– breathing in – Jesus Christ– breathing out – Jesus Christ– breathing in – Jesus Christ– breathing out – Jesus Christ– breathing in – Jesus Christ– breathing out – Jesus Christ– breathing in – Jesus Christ– breathing out – Jesus Christ– breathing in – Jesus Christ– breathing out – Jesus Christ– breathing in – Jesus Christ– breathing out – Jesus Christ– breathing in – Jesus Christ– breathing out – Jesus Christ– breathing in – Jesus Christ– breathing out – Jesus Christ– breathing in – Jesus Christ– breathing out – Jesus Christ– breathing in – Jesus Christ– breathing out – Jesus Christ– breathing in – Jesus Christ– breathing out – Jesus Christ– breathing in – Jesus Christ– breathing out – Jesus Christ–

Breathing!

Life is not a problem,
it has not to be solved,
life is a mystery
it has to be lived.
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.

Breathing in – Kyrie e’leison – breathing out – Kristi e’leison – breathing in – Kyrie e’leison – breathing out – Kristi e’leison – breathing in – Kyrie e’leison – breathing out – Kristi e’leison – breathing in – Kyrie e’leison – breathing out – Kristi e’leison – breathing in – Kyrie e’leison – breathing out – Kristi e’leison – breathing in – Kyrie e’leison –breathing out – Kristi e’leison – breathing in – Kyrie e’leison –breathing out – Kristi e’leison – breathing in – Kyrie e’leison –breathing out – Kristi e’leison – breathing in – Kyrie e’leison breathing out – Kristi e’leison – breathing in – Kyrie e’leison – breathing out – Kristi e’leison – breathing in Kyrie e’leison – breathing out – Kristi e’leison – breathing in – Kyrie e’leison –breathing out – Kristi e’leison – breathing in – Kyrie e’leison – breathing out – Kristi e’leison –

“He who listens carefully to his own breathing is not far from God.”
Father Seraphim / Athos.

Breathing in – Gospodi påmelui – breathing out – Gospodi påmelui – breathing in – Gospodi påmelui – breathing out – Gospodi påmelui – breathing in – Gospodi påmelui – breathing out – Gospodi påmelui – breathing in – Gospodi påmelui – breathing out – Gospodi påmelui – breathing in – Gospodi påmelui – breathing out – Gospodi påmelui – breathing in – Gospodi påmelui – breathing out – Gospodi påmelui – breathing in – Gospodi påmelui – breathing out – Gospodi påmelui – breathing in – Gospodi påmelui – breathing out – Gospodi påmelui – breathing in – Gospodi påmelui – breathing out – Gospodi påmelui – breathing in – Gospodi påmelui – breathing out – Gospodi påmelui – breathing in –


“The quick delighted flame of passion, its short, wasting fire and sudden extinction – these seemed to him to contain the heart of all knowledge. To him they were the pattern of worth, of every joy in human life. He could let their sadness sweep across his mind, with its shudder of eternal endings, and surrender to that as fully as to love, since it too was desire. As wantonness at the summit of his glory, knows of his own end and quick oblivion, knows that he will perish in the next breath, so is the innermost sadness of this drowned solitude sure of its resurrection in desire, in a fresh awakening of the senses in the lust of the eye, the pride of life. Death and lust were the same.
”Narziss and Goldmund”
Herman Hesse.


”Jener Trauer und jenem Vergänglichkeitsschauer konnte er sich mit ebensolscher Hingabe überlassen wie der Liebe, und auch diese Schwermut war Liebe, auch sie war Wollust. So wie die Liebeswonne im Augenblick ihrer höchsten, seligsten Spannung sicher ist, mit dem nächsten Atemzug hinschwinden und wiederum sterben zu müssen, so war auch die innigste Einsamkeit und Hingabe an die Schwermut sicher, plötzlich verschlugen zu werden vom Verlangen, von neuer Hinagbe an die lichte Steite des Lebens. Tod und Wollust waren eines.”
”Narziß und Goldmund”
Herman Hesse.


“ “But what comfort did your art bring you and what did it mean?”
“It meant the conquest of all perishes. I saw that out of the zanies’-tumble and death-dance, something can remain of our lives, and survive us – our works of art. Yet they, too, perish in the end. The are burnt, or they rot, or are broken. And yet their lives are longer than many human lives, so that, behind the instant that passes, we have, in images, a quiet land of shrines and precious shapes. To work at these seemed good and comforting to me, since it is almost a fixing of time for ever.” ”
”Narziss and Goldmund”
Herman Hesse.

„ „Aber was war es denn, was die Kunst dir gebracht und bedeutet hat?“
„Es war die Ûberwindung der Vergänglichkeit. Ich sah, daß aus dem Narrenspiel und Totentanz des Menschenlebens etwas übrigblieb und überdauerte: die Kunstwerke. Auch sie vergehen ja wohl irgendeinmal, sie verbrennen oder verderben oder erden wieder zerschlagen. Aber immerhin überdauern sie manches Menschenleben und bilden jenseits des Augenblicks ein stilles Reich der Bilder und Heiligtümer. Daran mitzuarbeiten scheint mir gut und tröstlich, denn es ist beinahe Verewigen des Vergänglichen.””
”Narziß und Goldmund”
Herman Hesse.

Narziss heard these last words in agony. To catch their sense he had to bend down close over his friend’s face. Many he could only half hear; many he heard, and yet their meaning remained obscure to him.
Now the sick man opened his eyes again. Their eyes took leave. He whispered with a little gesture, as though he were striving to shake his head:
“But how will you ever die, Narziss? You know no mother. How can we love without a mother? Without a mother, we cannot die.”
The rest of what he muttered was unintelligible. For the two last days and nights beside his bed, Narziss watched the light die out of his face. Goldmund’s last words still searched his heart like a flame.

”Narziss and Goldmund”
Herman Hesse.


„Bestürtzt hörte Naziß den Worten zu, er mußte sich tief über seines Freundes Gecicht hinabbücken, um sie noch verstehen zu können. Manche hörte er nur undeutlich, manche hörte er wohl, doch blieb ihr Sinn ihm verborgen.
Und nun schlug der Kranke nochmals die Augen auf und blickte lang in seines Freundes Gesicht. Mit den Augen nahm er Abschied von ihm. Und mit einer Bewegung, als versuchte er den Kopf zu schüttelen, flüsterte er:
„Aber wie willst denn du einmal sterben, Naziß, wenn du doch kein Mutter hast? Ohne Mutter kann man nicht streben. .”
Was er später noch murmelte, war nicht mehr verständlich. Die beiden letzten Tage saß Narziß an seinem Bett, Tag und Nacht, und sah zu, wie er erlosch. Goldmunds letzte worte brannten in seinm Herzen wie Feuer.”
”Narziß und Goldmund”
Herman Hesse.

Breathing in —

Thank you!

— Breathing out.

CASPER WREDE
MARIEHAMN, FINLAND


I really am reminded to stop and BREATHE.

In a way these pictures make you calm even though white isn’t my “calm-colour”, normally.

I DON’T THINK IT WORKS IF THE IDEA IS THAT THE PICTURES SHOULD MAKE YOU CALM, BUT IT PROBABLY TAKES A BIT OF TIME.

How do we actually live if we have to be reminded to breathe?

I wonder about that too.

Aren’t there more important things in life than SCHOOL?

Wondering how it will look when the sheets of paper go? You sort of got used to them being there, just for a short while.
They are quite nice, I think.

When the weather is nice, I like the sheets of paper, but when it is bad I just stare at them.

I am wondering why the empty sheets of paper have those grey lines? (     )

Why do I have to breathe in?

It is more important to breathe out. You breathe in sooner or later.

Because just breathing in, that wouldn’t work. Law of Nature.

WHAT COMES FIRST – BREATHING IN OR BREATHING OUT?

The hen or the egg?

Breathing in going up the staircase breathing out (….. ) and pausing by the empty sheets of paper.

I am just wondering what all this is actually about. Not that it is bothering me, I am just wondering.

Escalator (subway) going up… Heh heh..?

It is going to feel a bit empty when we have taken down the sheets of paper… Perhaps we should put something else up instead?

ANNETT WEIßENBURGER
WEIMAR, GERMANY


placed the work ”breathing” in a room, that is without a special destination

it’s a working space with computer and a sewing machine

a place for incredible collected paper stuff

two mattresses for guests / hanging out in the sunshine
coming in / playing with our child and having a nap

now it is filled with sole that keeps us alive

breathing

sitting at the table beside my old and solid sewing-machine
my eyes are following the seven sheets and make me remember my inner motor

lying down on the mattress and waiting for the moment to forget about breathing and anything else. Just feel the constant rhythm.

watching my baby, while sleeping. I have to come very close to her, to hear her breathing. When she was some days old I was often afraid, that she could stop breathing.

lying side by side, we try to breath in the same rhythm

like walking in the same rhythm

breathing in the warm sunlight of an autumn day


the written words

breathing in
breathing out

remind me of the instructions while giving birth – to control birth by breathing in the right way was the strongest experience for me.

Watching the 1 minute-lines make me thinking of all other lines all over the world.

It’s like needlework but very vivid

like the idea of working at the small table, looking to the right and stop for a while, because the work breathing is interrupting me

it’s like a short time meditation

then, my eyes are focussing another direction

there is a window in front of me: see some trees and the campus of the High School for music

the student there must learn how to set their breathing

like the size of the seven sheets. It’s almost as long as the mattresses measuring of a person

so I can lie “under” the work and feel it like a line above me

there is sth. similar of the imprint of the body in a ?hion and the work

– as if the breath of the person is imprinted, too.

the nearly invisible movement of the body while breathing in + out

I have a look on the list, where you sent the work

we are breathing in almost the same rhythm, but the air we breath all over the world is so different

smell of a rose

smell of a crowded bus on a hot summer day

smell of your home coming back after a journey

I leave the following pages free, to have more space for

breathing in
+
out

Kisses Annett

Yrsa Hörn Helgadóttir
Dalvík, ICELAND


Whenever I come into the kitchen I get a little startled to see this white stripe almost covering the wall.

Jara 12 years old:
Mom! Do you really think this is an excellent work of art?

Reflections on the work (sitting by the kitchen table). The pencil strokes were probably drawn while the artist was breathing in and breathing out.

Hlyn would like to take a picture of the work with the Christmas lights. He did so while we were decorating for Christmas. Everyone is allowed to join in , even “White”. That’s what I decided to call this new “member of the family” to tell it from the other members.

Mom is coming over to cook Laufrabraut (deep-fried round cakes with leaf patterns). She didn’t notice She didn’t seem to notice “White” but she probably thought, what the hell is this? After a while I asked, Mom haven’t you noticed the work of art on the wall?
Yes, damned…..
That was the reaction.

When Hugga came in she leaned towards ”White” asking, What is this?????

Dana Jóna, in the middle of a sentence: What is this? She thought I was having fun with relaxation, to remind myself to breathe.

PRAKASH BHATAMBREKAR
MUMBAI, INDIA



Parallel and uneave lines
leading to no where in life;
awaiting the meaningful
moment to come. But
alas! Days passed by and
the lines are stationer
with appearance and
let many aspirations //
observations to be ful-
filled.
(Signature)

21/02/02

SARVANAZ DEZVAREH
TEHRAN, IRAN


APR- 2002-3 (WED)

Today I received an e-mail from Hanne Godtfeldt.
I can take part in the project “breathing”.

I prefer to write in my mother language. It’s much easier to write about my thoughts and ideas.
Since the Farsi handwriting is write from the right side to left. So I start my writing from right side of the notebook.

[The translation from Farsi into Danish and from Danish into English has been a bit complicated. We hope this is acceptable. HG & SHS].

This parcel that I received has really puzzled me. Because I don’t know what the idea of this exercise is. But I am very curious and I will complete this task.
The first problem that I have encountered is that I haven’t used an ordinary lead pencil since primary school. Since then I have only used art pencils. I find it difficult to write with an ordinary lead pencil. And secondly I don’t have any space in my room. My walls are covered with my own drawings and necklaces that I made myself. So I have to find a spot for it.

When I look at the works of art on the wall I get a nice feeling. Another thing that makes me happy is previously, when I have been writing, I have never thought about what I was writing or whether anyone would be reading it. But after having written for 8 or 9 years I am now writing about my experiences and my ideas, so that I can secretly share them with somebody. This thought amuses me.

Usually I place my diary on a cupboard next to my bed. That way I get the time to write and then read what I have written before I go to sleep. I don’t know why I read what I have written, probably because I want to make sure that my thoughts are on the right track.

In regard to the name of this exercise, - why this name and what is the point of this exercise? What should I draw and what is my starting point? (To save I will hereby use both sides of the paper). “Breathing” means to breathe in relation to private life and nature [unfortunately the translation is failing here HG & SHS]. I am not sure what the point of breathing is. It can be a way of letting go of one’s thoughts or one’s past or other things…..

Yesterday when I started this exercise something new happened. My dad’s negative conduct and opinion, for example. As my room is filled with my own work I intend to do the exercise in our living room for the three weeks. Yesterday and today we had visitors and my Dad said; please, wait until the visitors have left. But as I was going to see how it would look on the wall, I took down two pictures and that made my Dad cross, so I had to put them back. I was really unhappy that the house wouldn’t co-operate with me. But when I realised that I couldn’t carry out the exercise on the walls, there was, however, a step in a positive direction. I talked to my big brother, Siavash, about the word, Breathing. He said that it reminded him of a fish swimming out of water. The word reminds him of the movie Arizona Dream.

It was quite funny that when I discussed the exercise with my friend in America through email and chat my friend warned me; I should be careful with this exercise. I like people’s reaction to it.

The sheets are hanging on the wall, but I haven’t touched them. When I am sitting on the sofa in my room looking at my work I get a good feeling. It is fun and unusual to hang some A-4 sheets on the wall and to take down pictures that my Dad likes and hang up other ones. The unusual things that you do are all part of it, if you want to participate in these exercises.

I have made something, but it is not good enough. I don’t know why, it is probably because I am working too graphical, but no. When it looks like I haven’t done anything it worries my mum, because she thinks that I am not doing anything. But it doesn’t matter, because I believe, that art will take however long it needs. Because everything has to fit together, every piece has its own procedure.

My mum has a good perspective on the words breathing in and breathing out. The words make my mum think of Afghan women wearing masks. The big garments that they are wearing, so that you can’t see the shape of their body or their face, which they got rid of at the fall of the Taleban regime.

One of my friends is certain that I am working slowly but doing well. Everyone has his or her opinion that they are telling me about. Breathing reminds me of the colour blue. I am not sure whether breathing means blue or whether it’s just me who wants it to mean blue? But, anyway, it reminds me of the colour blue.

Sometimes I consider gluing cardboard onto paper and filling it in with writing and signs. But I am not really sure.
I think the idea with this exercise is to find out about people’s culture, their points of views and different emotions. Can they cope with an exercise without the necessary instructions, and how much effort are they going to put into each item in connection with such an exercise.

A couple of days ago, when my Mum returned from university, she handed me some papers in regard to breathing. It was partly what her colleagues had given her and partly her own reflections. My Mum worries about my work and has great respect for it.
On the paper it said breathing in and breathing out:
1. Two different things that you cannot separate. Put together it is a nice relaxing feeling.
2. An easy medicine used to avoid the stresses of life, both the psychological and the physical.
3. Spring the great opening of life.
4. The opening of the “codes” of the brain.
5. The best way to avoid stress and fatigue, to avoid negative affects on the body, to jog and walk especially in springtime, when you are happy.

Regarding the photos:
1: The first picture that I was going to take is completely blank, because I was fairly “busy”, so therefore I took a picture of it before I finished painting it. The location where I took the photo was in our living room.
2: I don’t like the second picture, which is my family portrait. I want to use my family for the exercise, but my Dad can’t be bothered with these exercises and can’t “wait”, and my Mum is very upset that I wouldn’t let her put on some nice clothes.
3: The third picture was the biggest problem, since my Dad couldn’t be bothered to walk up and down four floors, because of his knee, and he doesn’t like being outside, as he is not very sociable. So I took a picture of them in front of our door (4th floor No 10). And if we were to go down in the street my Mum and I would have to wear Chador. This is demanded in our country. This matter is very important to our people. I had problems with lining them up; there is certain rigidity about it. And they wouldn’t be persuaded into doing it in any other way.
4: The fourth picture is how I wanted it.
5: I thought a lot about this picture, and I had different ideas. Siavash, my brother, wanted the picture to be that of a man, eating jam. Sometimes I envy his abilities; I myself wanted to work with shadows of dancing people where you can see them breathing at the same time. Or I wanted to take a picture of one of my works of art, because I like their shape. In connection with this my mum’s idea was very interesting, as she insisted that I should take a picture of corners of our home. But it was my exercise and it was me who should it carry out. In the end my work of art became the fifth picture.

I really appreciated the period that I was in contact with Hanne Godtfeldt. The things that I learned from her had nothing to do with the actual exercise. But in connection with the exercise I gained a bigger knowledge and I was able to feel things more easily. For example I was able to sense things that went on in our home and sense how differently people can behave and act even when living together. The differences between generations, between cultures, between men and women etc…. but everything was good.

To be honest I was really disappointed that after four semesters I was not able to carry out an exercise properly. But another thing that happened, in connection with this exercise, was that through my contacts to other countries my language significantly improved for my forthcoming semester.
One thing more, that happened, was that I could sense my inner self a lot better, my culture, my race, my thoughts and many other things.
Other people’s thoughts in connection with this exercise were one of the most important things.
In short everything was great, thank you very much.


[Unfortunately several of Sarvanaz Dezvareh’s photos could not be developed. HG & SHS].

AYELA KOLBERG
NEGEV, ISRAEL


Tuesday – February 5, 2002
Got the package – tried figuring out whom it was from before opening it – didn’t know – opened it anyway. My son said – are you sure it’s not anthrax? – the thought never occurred to me although – in these troubled times – maybe it should have – how ironic, afterward, to read “breathing in”, “breathing out” – this anthrax sender has a mocable sense of humor.
Anyway – I took it for what it said it was in the letter – found only one blank wall big enough for the whole work – couldn't unpeel the double tape so used masking tape – hung it up – a bit crooked … dusted a little
my son said – is this art ?

Saturday, Feb. 9
This evening we got around to take the photo of “breathing in” -“breathing out” where I hung it (computer room) In the picture with me are Amikai (my youngest son (16½) and Jagy, our dog. We took a couple of shots just in case they didn’t come out so well – never used a disposable camera before …

Monday, Feb. 11
The weather was nice – right after a rain – just right for “breathing in …” – went for a walk in the fields around the kibbutz. Everything has just turned green and lots of red anemones.
The walk was just the right thing to take my mind off what’s going on in Israel an on the kibbutz. Spring comes even if there’s an intifada . . .
I brought back a small souvenir (A dried flower has been taped into the notebook. HG & SHS.)
I took the picture of the notebook in its place – again some extra ones just in case . . .

Sat. February 23
The masking tape holding up the papers is beginning to loosen its grips – I had to reglue a couple of spots. I told some of my friends about “breathing in, breathing out”

March 16
I should have sent this off a couple of week ago but I was never home together with my son and a third person to take the picture outside our house – at least not when it was light outside – I finally gave up & we took the picture in the dark.
Tomorrow I’ll send this project off.

March 17 –
Took a walk + the last photo – of the hills around the Kibbutz. One without flash. Then the flash was still on so I took another picture – some branches against the sky.
The name of this project is so timely in the situation I’m living in – around me there is more or less a war going on – breathing in, breathing out is what one keeps on doing in spite of everything that goes on around.
Just existing . . .
from day to day . . .
and
breathing in . . .
breathing out . . .

SALVATORE MAZZA
PRATO, ITALY


Every day a sheet of paper was falling down.
With patience I ordered everything after the instructions.
One day… two… three… then I stopped… even thinking about it.

SHEILA BROWN
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND


Sheila Brown
06 – 02 – 2202
Waitangi Day in NZ


Placed Art work above doorway between dining room and lounge. Curious art work. Placed as above.

21 – 2. 2002
Very relaxing

22.02.02
A simple reminder of how we take it all for granted. It almost inspires a meditation, just seeing the words. Also calms the mind quietens the voice and invites you to perhaps appreciate on a very simple level, life, without breath, wouldn’t exist. With this in mind, I would think this exercise should impact on those that are living or visiting the residence where these words are on show. It is a peaceful and pleasant way to make us think outside of our normal, conditioned squares, and to take notice of our own thoughts and share with others, between breaths, with thankfully, a pause in between, to allow the whole exercise to be injured.

28/2/02
The white sheets between the printed sheets are the most significant part of the “installation” as they make an opportunity for the viewer to pause and think about what she / he has just read. The space between things . buildings, works of art – give form to the things.

27/2/02
Life can be fast-paced, challenging and lacking the space we should give ourselves.
This artwork reminds us to slow down, relax, and breath. It allows us to give ourselves the space we are entitled to.
Take time to pause.

28/2/02
I’m surprised by the comments offered, as initially I couldn’t think of anything very constructive to say. Perhaps it’s just the fact that most of these remarks have been made by women – and I’m a man. Maybe the typical New Zealand male leaves artistic appreciation to women – then either chooses to agree or disagree with them! I suppose also some of my surprise was as much about the spontaneity of the comments offered and the ease with which most of these women found something to say, as it was about the content.
In the first instance my reaction was that I couldn’t see anything very artistic about the display and I was somewhat bemused at the prospect of someone on the other side of the world turning it, and the material sent back to them, into an exhibition. I’m still curiously sceptical!
However, I am able to see the perspective offered by those commenting earlier in these notes and perhaps a measure of merit in a work of art is the extent to which it encourages a viewer to pause and think about it.
Good Luck.

I HAVE INCLUDED A PHOTO OF SOME ART WORK IN OUR HIÓUSE PLUS A PHOTOGRAPH OF MY HUSBAND AND MY SISTER ALISON (WHO LIVES IN AUSTRALIA) AS I DOUBT IF THE CAMERA HAS FUNKTIONED CORRECTLY! IT MAY WELL BE MY FAULT.

GOOD LUCK WITH THE PROJECT.

SHEILA BROWN

FOLKE ARTMAN
FØRSLEV, SWEDEN


On Tuesday 22/ l / 02 a notice arrived about a parcel from Denmark. The sender was unknown to me. The only thing I could expect from Denmark would be from a member of the Ringkøbing Smakkelaug to whom I had sent a report about a couple of day’s sailing in connection with an inter-Nordic allmoge-boats meeting. Five boats from the smacklaug sailed together from Roskilde to a camp in Isefjorden. I was expecting a copy of their club magazine. This parcel even seemed to contain a little something as a thank you for the article.

With some disappointment and anticipation I find inside the parcel an invitation to be part of a work of art! There are often advertising brochures with all kinds of invitations in the letterbox. You get something minor if you commit to something, which, before you know it, costs more than you had imagined. You get exploited in your naivety and get disappointed, mainly with yourself. But in most cases these advertising offers end up in the rubbish. Shouldn’t this be going the same way? I really don’t have time for other people’s, stranger’s, funny business. The living room furniture have been put away. The roof needs re-painting. In the shed a started woodwork project, a chest of drawers, is awaiting. In the basement the outboard motor is waiting for another layer of protection paint. The outdoor furniture needs oiling. Shouldn’t I be preparing for the meeting tonight and tomorrow night. Yes indeed!

This parcel. The postage close to one hundred Danish crowns. The contents perhaps close to 300 DKr sent to 35 countries, 10.000 DKr altogether.

I belong to a generation, who grew up with parents who experienced poverty-stricken Sweden in the late 1800. Nothing useful was wasted all leftover food was being used. I fill up the shed with big and small things, which might be useful. But I forget what I am keeping and most of it is never used. And I can afford to buy new.

I cannot throw out such an expensive parcel. My wife suggested returning it. That simple!

Well, I am not only naive. I am also a patriot. Should I let Sweden fail amongst 35 countries. What if it was returned and then sent to someone else in my country, increased expenses? To what use?

With that I have reached the obvious question. From where did Steinun and Hanne get my name and address? Why me? Can hardly believe that it was a random pick in the phone book.

13th January - Canut’s Day, the end of Christmas this year on a Sunday. The Tree and all the decorations will come down Monday. Canut is celebrated in the memory of the Danish King, who died in 1086. He was regarded a martyr called ”Canut the Holy” by posterity. The Sunday, before mentioned, when I went to church here in the village, the service was about the baptism of Jesus,God’s chosen one, by Johannes. The vicar read the text and explained to us how every human needs to be seen, loved and chosen. Look around you amongst the lonely, the outcast, even those have not been forgotten; God sees, God loves everyone and they are like Jesus the chosen ones.

In connection with this work of art in progress have I been chosen, yet not seen or loved. Could my name have come up in connection with ”THE WIND BLOWS” the Nordic allmoge-boats meeting since 1285?

Breathing is essential, goes on all through your life from the first breath, so eagerly and worriedly anticipated by those who are present and to the last weak breath out of the dying person, hopefully surrounded by dear relatives.

But during the course of life we don’t give much thought to our breathing. If happens automatically. Stronger when we are straining, weaker almost unnoticeable when we are asleep. That’s how it is for a healthy person. During sickness difficulty with breathing can occur (during a cold) or shortness of breath (e.g. during a heart attack). If we are forced to stop breathing e.g. when swimming under water the need for oxygen is strongly increased verging on fear to be able to start breathing again. Though practice we can suppress the urge to breathe to a certain degree and can swim twice as long under water as we thought possible.

But we cannot breathe heavily to create on oxygen build up before and oxygen demanding performance. The brain says stop.

Breathing in, pause, breathing out. That is how the process is supposed to go, but during normal breathing, no noticeable gap occurs between the in- and out breath. When the body is resting only a small part of the lung capacity is being used, a smaller part of the lung volume exchanges air.

Who hasn’t as a kid competed to see who could hold his breath the longest. For a fair game you should hold your nose tight with a thumb grip. Usually the strongest willed would win.

During my youth, when I practised swimming long distances under water, I got the advice to let out a bit of air, when the urge to breathe in got too strong. Thereby you would trick the automatic breathing in reflex and the relieve would let you gain some other 10 meter’s of swimming.

During strong emotional stress, if you want to calm down, it helps to breathe in deeply and hold your breath; the same goes for a sudden onset of anxiety.

So I am here by participating in a work of art, in an art project! What is art? It is hard, perhaps impossible to define. Somebody said that everything created, as art (by the artist) is art. The value of the art is in the eye of the spectator, whose understanding of the art can be broadened and the depth of the perception assisted through studying.

Usually people themselves want to judge and value. Artists, critics, gallery owners all influence us, trying to teach us, convince us in our confusion and doubts. Surely the highest price at an exhibition or an auction is not defining the worth of the work of art, nor the status or abilities of the artist. Here scepticism has its say.

This art-project, however, is not perceivable, not a canvas. Perhaps more like an installation, a happening, an idea, a joke. This kind of disposable art, which is used up and over as soon as the spectator has participated, comprehended, been explained to, understood the dimension, the dimensions. It is like an already solved crossword-puzzle used up and worthless,

Then comes the following ponder: is this really seriously meant or is it I as a person, who has been exposed to a test and scrutiny. Like trying to find the answer to how much time and mental effort
people in different countries can be expected to spend on something which isn’t, what it is pretending to be, namely art.

Wednesday 23/1
The seven sheets were actually missing in the folder, which was sent to me. My first incentive was to cut out the seven little squares, which were in the letter in front of me. They would be easy to place. But then it occurred to me, that aside from the prints, there might be an original piece, drawings or colour pictures.

So I phoned Hanne in Denmark. She promised me to send the seven sheets that same day.

She seemed serious enough. No irony or jocularity in her tone of voice.

She couldn’t tell me how they got my name and address, however, but referred me to Steinunn Helga.

Monday 28/1
”The seven sheets” arrived in today’s post. Three subjects: 2 pieces of ”breathing in”, 2 pieces of ”breathing out” and 3 pieces with faint slightly wavy periled lines going from edge to edge.

By the order they were placed in the folder, just like it shows in the letter, I can detect a trip-tych in this work of art.

Breathing in / Pause / Breathing out.

I find this order to be the most natural one, but the opposite could also be possible.

Breathing out / Pause / Breathing in.

Said and done. With the double-sided sticky tape the first print from the folder’s stiff cardboard was sorted. It is placed on the cover of the bureau. It can be seen by anyone entering the house through the kitchen entrance. You pass the artwork regularly on the way to and from the kitchen.

This notebook is placed on the bureau by the work of art.

The picture ”Breathing out” I put on my bedside table above the radio, stuck onto the photographs of my grandchildren, several are old ones.

The pictures “Breathing out” together with the “Pause” are now stuck on the glass of the bedroom window.

In pencil on the back of the last sheet, it says 1 minute in very small writing. In this connection that is an unreasonably long time, scary and oppressively uncomfortable. I suggest 15 sec. instead.
The choice of placements I will explain later.

Left of the seven sheets is a
”Pause”.
This goes on a picture I have above my desk.

29/1 Tuesday
As I open up the blind in the bedroom just after seven it is already getting light. The clouds are chasing each other. Straight in front of me a piece of art (very little work , just two words, typed). They encourage me to breathe in, which I do. Symbolically taking in the new day and wondering in silence, what this day demands and what it can give.

Then it strikes me. I have misinterpreted and translated it incorrectly. The two words are not an encouragement. It is an occurrence. As they appear this is a time-limited thing - breathing in. But it cannot stay like that. The body demands a continuation, the rhythmic breathing in, out, in, out, all life long. A rest during this, a pause, in the breathing, is always forced by the individual and happens within a limited time. So the breathing in and out has its limitations.

So, therefore, correctly translated and understood my print on the cover of the bureau should read.

Breathing in / Resting / Breathing out.

Resting. Is it rest? No, in between and during the breathing important things are taking place, namely the oxygen levels of the blood. At vital lack of oxygen forces are mobilised to produce oxygen to continue the breathing. If this doesn’t happen the brain is affected and unconsciousness follows.

How should you interpret the picture ”Resting” these faint lines from one edge to the other. A puddle. A calm sea with unnoticeable ripples. An empty surface. But it is under the surface the important things happen, the life of the animals and the sea plants. Even here oxygen is needed, through out the breathing of the wind and the currents. Though the rhythm is different to that of the human one.

From an outside point of view the picture ”Resting” seems pointless, meaningless and so casually that it might be mistaken for a child’s scribble.

In the afternoon Åse, my wife’s youngest daughter, came to pick up her two boys, 6 and 4 years old. She couldn’t avoid seeing the pictures.
”What’s this”, she asks spontaneously. ”A work of art?” Yes.
”Oh yes – a contemplative work of art”, she judged, directly, unaffected. But she didn’t have time for any more background, though she is artistically gifted herself and sews appliqué and illustrates her own poetry.

3/2 Sunday
I am on my third day of a course of penicillin against an airway infection, which is normally called quinsy.

With a sore throat and with spreading of the infection to the nose and chest the temperature reached a maximum of 39,6 degrees Celsius. At one point during the night, I had to force myself to breathe really gently and slowly, so that the stream of air wouldn’t cause the spontaneous upset of coughing or sneezing. It was clear to me that such air exchange was not breathing. The point of breathing is, of course, to add oxygen to the blood. While the before mentioned like blowing your nose, clearing your throat, and drawing snot into the pharynx, has the purpose of clearing the airways from mucus. Especially the sneezing is effective as the quick contraction of the chest and diaphragm creates a stream of air the speed of a hurricane.

Even by actively attempting to prevent a sneeze, air is automatically drawn in and hereby gives the sneeze its effect. At some stage I was given the advice never to hold back a sneeze. The pressure needs to be released in order to avoid the infection forcing its way towards the ear canals and sinuses.

In the Swedish language, as in all other languages, there are certain agreed expressions, which, symbolically or in a figurative sense, express something familiar well known by everybody.

In connection with psychological or physical efforts the mind is focused on this, but when the pressure ceases ”You can breathe out again”. By this you don’t mean the air exchange in the lunges, but the release and expansion of the mind. I can perceive normally and have calmed down.

When I am looking at my trip-tych on the bureau ”in” / ”rest” / ”out” I am suspecting that the pictures are in the wrong order. It should really be like this:
”in” / ”out” / ”rest”

After a deep breath in there is an immediate pressure to breathe out. If you do this the “rest” that follows becomes more unruffled. This applies to a task demanding great precision and concentration like just before I fire my gun, put a thread through the eye of a needle.

Someone might object that this isn’t the case with the shot-putter, the hammer-thrower or the tennis-player who, at that very moment of throwing or hitting, breathes out with a scream or yell. This may be so, but here the precision is secondary to the force.

13/2 Wednesday photographed the display according to the instructions.
As I was unsure about the camera’s light sensitivity (the film’s that is) I have also photographed using a flash.

Picture 1 Breathing out = out-breath placed by the bed-radio. Here the picture should give me inspiration to breathe out the events of the day, good as well as bad, clear the lungs, leave the day and receive the night in the calm breath of sleep.

Picture 2 On the window in the bedroom where every day the weather and the surrounding country. This is where I should take in the new day.

Picture 3 This undefined picture of resting (between in and out breath) I have put next to a charcoal drawing by Steffan Ullström, who is a skilful painter of birds, a calm seascape showing that a breath is present in the deep in the shape of a swell showing its momentum and power against the cliff’s of the beach. In what appears as still there is a force equally found in the in or out breath which must follow.

Picture 4 On the bureau that stands by the entrance it is shown from the right, side by side: Breathing out – Resting – Breathing in.

Picture 5 My wife Ebba sitting by the bureau. The notebook is lying on top of it.

Picture 6 Me sitting by the bureau with the notebook in my hand.

Picture 7 The notebook.

Picture 8 Picture 3 but taken with flash.

Picture 9 Picture 1 taken with flash.

Picture 10 The house where we live.

Picture 11 The entrance to the house.

Picture 12 My desk.

After I photographed them I took all the pictures (the sheets) and put them together on my desk. Pondered over them. They didn’t give me any inspirations other than, what I have already written about here in this notebook. Not an experience of beauty at all. They were used up. And I wasn’t going to miss them on that spot where they had been placed.

I had accomplished my undertaking without knowing exactly what it was.
What did Steinunn and Hanne expect?

Good luck with the continuation!

Folke Artman

Britain - a polite letter saying no thank you.
Hungary - a slip of paper saying "NO thank you", sent back with the pencil broken in two and the unused disposable camera and the empty notebook.
USA - “Return to sender. No such street number”