Breathing Bodies, Berlin

as a part of Sensing the city – sense of the city

My work in this exhibition entails daily ventures around Berlin to make daily sound recordings of people breathing. After making each audio recording, I write a short narrative about each participant, their location and their activity. The sound recordings will be played cumulatively at ORi. Gallery-goers will also be able to scan a QR code to access the narratives and audio files here on this web page.


Curator, Sensing the City
17 March 2022, 12:35
ORi, Kreuz-köln

Comments: while breathing Nika finds herself relaxing, focusing. She is curious to hear how the recording will sound. While the recording is happening, Nika hears her breath, but more as a partner. “It’s like looking at yourself in the mirror, but not with eyes, rather with one’s ears.”


Artist, Curator, Sensing the City
17 March 2022, 12:45
ORi, Kreuz-köln

Comments: “Danke, das war schön. Na ja, ich mache Meditation gerne. Ich glaube das ist aufgefordet werden zu Atmen, weiss du, diese Aufmerksamkeit, dieses Awareness Ding. Ich finde das, hat das einfall, diese Kunstliche Pause, einfach. Atmen nur für zwei Minuten, macht vielleicht schon viel mit einem… Also sehr meditativ, würde ich sagen ist es. Total schön.”


Curator, Sensing the City
17 March 2022, 12:57
ORi, Kreuz-köln

“I feel quite stressed at the moment and ja, you know… we are trying to build the exhibition and there are so many thoughts in my head and it all feels very chaotic. There are mistakes we need to fix, and ja, maybe you can feel that in my breath a bit, but in the end I tried to relax a bit (laughs). That’s what I can say about the experience.”


19 March 2022, 8:10
Morning. After sex, before coffee.

A vibrantly sunny morning. The walls appear a dove grey in the incoming morning light, which is diffused through sheer window coverings that are lined with rows of postcard pockets. Suspended from the center of the ceiling, amber globes of glass dangle off a just-right chandelier. Interspersed along the ring of the ceiling’s cove molding are impressed designs which draw my gaze to linger with. “Be sure to include mention of those,” says Stephen. Are they depicting two roses standing back to back? Or are they some hybrid plant-animal-biped ready to transport one to and from dreamland? Despite their 100+ years of paint layers, these decorative elements still manage to parade with slightly elegant and playful mystery around the height of the room.

20 March 2022, 13:04
Studio Anke Hauerstein, immediately following three hours of workshopping Level I GYROKINESIS®.

Sitting on a stool in the center of this sunny studio, with it’s white walls and white wool carpet. Franziska sits with her eyes closed, completely immersed in the experience of breathing. Her posture is fully upright and present. “Thank you,” Franziska exclaims upon finishing the recording. “That was really nice.”


20 March 2022, 13:07
Studio Anke Hauerstein, immediately following three hours of workshopping Level I GYROKINESIS®.

Clementine lies down on the floor and closes her eyes. We place one recording device at the bottom of her rib cage. The other I hold gently at her throat.
“I felt so aware of my breath, and felt I could really relax.”


Office Worker,
21 March 2022,
Schöneberg Hinterhof after climbing four flights of stairs to retrieve a package

At the top of the stairwell for this Altbau Hinterhof my neighbor arrives to retrieve a package that was left with me a few days ago. After climbing the stairs, her breath is still heavy and quick as we begin the recording. We make a false start and begin again .
“I wasn’t expecting this request! It gave me a chance to catch my breath.”


Teacher, Gymnasium
21 March 2022, 19:49
Preparing lessons in art and design for 11th Klasse, focus on architecture. Patrik is researching images of Corbusier churches on the internet. Covering his worktable are highlighter pens, a hole puncher, a pencil and an eraser. Papers. Many sheets of papers, some printed with schedules and rosters, others with handwriting. Sounds of traffic filter in through the room’s closed windows.

As we finish the recording, which takes three attempts as the nuanced rustling of equipment is somehow always louder than Patrik’s breath, he shares “It was rather unspectacular, not life-changing, nor uncomfortable.” A few minutes later as I finish packing my recording gear and turn to leave, he adds, “And now I have the sense you are taking my breath away.”


21 March 2022, 12:27
Art Studio in Hohenschönhausen Bezirk

I meet John in his second floor studio in this former Stasi building. His studio once housed rows of heavy information-laden file cabinets. The ceilings are high and John has made good use of the space, organizing newer and older works, models, materials, documentation. The space is exploding with ideas and materials and the energy that moves between these. In one corner, to the right of the window is a sink and water kettle. I sit on the small sofa on the other side of the room while John makes us each a cup of filter-drip coffee. Filling a high worktable between us is an undulating white model. ‘A casting of books,’ he explains. He is working on a new sculpture for an upcoming exhibition at a gallery in Charlottenburg this May. Visible out the window in the outdoor workspace between these two former Stasi buildings, another artist is refinishing a large piece of wood… door? tabletop? installation wall?

I set up one microphone in front of his short office-style chair. It does not roll; rather the base is a heavy metal meant to stay in position. I wonder if it came with the building. Adjusting the second microphone against his throat we begin. John sits in complete stillness for two minutes as he breathes. When the recording finishes, John shares that it felt very meditative, or at least what he would consider meditation to be like, since he does not meditate. He notices that he feels calmer. “I am not used to doing nothing in my studio. I closed my eyes and it felt unique to be quiet and still here in this space. It’s a strange feeling somehow.”


24 March 2022, 21:12

A quiet Thursday. Desmond has just arrived from the airport after a long journey.
“It felt really weird. It was weird to have a mic pressed up against my body and be told to just breathe.”