What Is It I Breathe In Every Day?

Work-in-progress, 2018-

Working across video, writing, artist’s book, appropriation and the archive and experimenting with analogue photographic processes, this project responds creatively to my daily experience of living with asthma and the fear of triggers that set off symptons, like fossil fuel air pollution, photographic chemicals and perfume, while also exploring non-literal means of representation of air pollution and polluting particles detrimental to the health and wellbeing of millions of people and animals worldwide.

Exposing myself to toxic photographic processes, this body of work portrays aspects of a mostly invisible condition while questioning the contemporary relevance of some of the processes employed. I also address the negative environmental impact of inhalers which are essential for managing asthma for millions of people worldwide. The work is juxtaposed with pages reproduced from a 1940s children’s health book which emphasises the importance of clean air: ‘we must have plenty of fresh air if we want to be healthy.’

The video What Colour My Lungs? combines a video record of dust clouds caused by the illegal disposal of waste at a London building site at night, with selfie-footage showing severe asthma symptons. A voice-over reads a subtitled text over a soundtrack of coughing and asks, ‘What is it I breathe in every day? By Farringdon? By Euston? By Waterloo? What colour my lungs?’
A collodion self-portrait was included in ‘Polluted Postcards’, a group show at The Cells in Plymouth, 2018. What Colour My Lungs was part of ‘Surveillance, Sedition and Shelley’, a Bookmarks/Riversmeet Press event, 27 February 2021.

What Is It I Breathe In Every Day?, mixed media, various dimensions

What Colour My Lungs?, high definition video, colour, sound, 1:26 min, 2021

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Roelof Bakker, all rights reserved, 2022