September 30. 2020 Sunrise (7.23) til sunset (18.57). Silver pannel.
Photos by Niels Fabæk
I started taking the breath as a starting point because I wanted to pass on what I myself experience as the most important thing in life; life itself. That despite all the differences and conflicts we experience during our time here on earth, there is one thing we all have in common: we breathe and our hearts beat. Life without all the hierarchical orders we are always subject to. There may be illnesses that make it difficult to breathe, but basically we are all alive. I began to consider how I could place this being in art. Since I have a degree in modern dance in the time before I came to the art academy, I am familiar with notation systems of movement. It was here that I found the inspiration for a marking of the breath. I was just going to perform this act of something that already existed. Similarly, I chose from sunrise to sunset. It was also a time frame already set. I was not supposed to 'invent' anything.
I performed the work for the first time in 2011, but in 2010 my pre-studies began. I found out that the work for me is also about stopping. Having a full day where I only have to concentrate on breathing. Not having to do anything, not accomplishing anything, not being good at anything. Just be. In this way one can say that there is also a rebellion in the work. A rebellion against stress, achievement and that we must constantly accomplish and be world champions for everything. A quiet rebellion against the world's increasing speed - stress and rush.
The work left behind after the performance is a witness to the time and place I lived and breathed that day, as an imprint of lived life. Neither more nor less. The material and size of this always has a relevance and connection to the particular place I perform. I often use A4 or postcard format as it is a kind of bottle mail I write, but without words. The letter and postcard format refers to this sending something off to someone out there in the world. I often use metals as I think the way these are oxidized is a fine link to the aging human.
The breath can often not be seen and in the metal the lines can 'disappear' depending on how the light falls. One thing I am now more and more aware of is that the way we breathe affects not only ourselves but also those we are with. The way parents breathe is repeated in children. Our breathing reflects our nervous system and if we are restless and hectic it is the atmosphere we leave in each other as an imprint. Like rings in the water to the present and the past and the future. Therefore, it can be said that each of us has a responsibility to cultivate the breath. Just like we go to school to become educated people, we should have breathing hours. Understand the connection between our mental state, the emotions and the body through the breath. It is very often we forget to breathe. We are very conscious about fluid and food, but forget that breathing is the most important nourishment. It is a simple tool to get back to yourself and feel how you feel. Therefore, there are probably also many who fail to find a calmly balanced breath because feeling oneself and the world is not always easy. It can be trauma filled, difficult, sad, full of horrors, but it's all worth it to get a fluid free breath, even though you may need a trip to hell and back again. To stop and thereby get more fullness in life - fill the whole body with air all the way down to the toes, as someone who participated in the work at Kunsten said. At one point I started inviting those who come physically, but also those who are not present to participate in the work - that is, mark their own breathing. If you are not present physically, you can subsequently send the selection to me. I am compiling an archive of those who participated, the newspaper from the place in question and the work itself.
I use myself to focus on breathing, but my breathing is no more important than everyone else's and therefore it was a very logical development that I started inviting people to participate. The presence that is created when people participate and sit down in front of me is very intense. Basically, I'm not talking. The silence says everything between the participant and myself. The intimate space that arises is so surprising because nothing verbal is communicated. The fact that we each constantly have the small act of marking means that we do not 'disappear' into each other, but we do come home all the time. I experience this as a great strength, but also a challenge. That we are together fully in the presence of each other and ourselves. I am fascinated by the lungs as an internal but at the same time external organ. We draw it outside air into the lungs and exhale again. In this way, we are closely connected. We are like a big body, not at all as separated as we often experience. I have performed quite a few times in central America and sat on the local square. Here it is gripping to be present all day. Be a part of the city that wakes up. The life that unfolds. How people in the street relate to me, look curious, participate, ask. All of these meetings through the breath with people I do not know at all ages and all walks of life. We breathe together from sunrise to sunset. The practical: I strive not to take breaks during my performance. It is solely to give my mind peace. Not having to deal with eating, drinking and toilet visits. I do not have to pick anything during the day. I just need to breathe and mark this action.