“Exchange” provokes an intimate encounter between performer and spectator. Using breath as a material, the performance accumulates a series of ephemeral residues over time that transform both the space of performance and the body of the performer.
As the performance begins, I enter a sculptural installation that I built from glass, metal and fabric. The duration of the performance is set to be 10 hours and 14 minutes, during which time I do not leave the boundary of the installation, am silent and do not sit down, eat or drink. I stand with my arm outstretched, offering a balloon to passersby. Those who take the balloon sometimes continue walking, but most often, as I maintain eye contact and breath deeply, decide to blow up the balloon. Taking the inflated balloon from their hands before they can tie a knot, I put the balloon to my lips and inhale the participants’ breath into my body without exhaling. Once the entire balloon has been inhaled, gulped and swallowed, I exhale our cumulative breath onto one of over 80 pieces of shattered glass I have hung in the performance space and place the now deflated balloon on the ground within the installation. Two hundred thirty-two exchanges occurred in this manner over the duration of the June 29th performance.
When the 10 hour 14 minute duration I have set for the performance expires, I then inflate one balloon and stand holding it until a spectator willingly takes it and inhales the last breath of the work. Only when this happens do I exit the perimeter of the installation. On June 29th, my own breath was inhaled by a spectator mere seconds after I inflated a balloon.
A sound installation occurred simultaneously with the live performance and was created by sound artist Derek Phillips. Phillips captured the sounds of my body, the sculpture and the space over the ten-plus hour duration and played these sounds back into the performance space in the live moment.
Brendon Martin monitored the performance as part of my production team.