(a) breathing: collective noun, 2021
Edition of 3 + 1 AP as digital file of the image
Breathing is the first thing we need to live. And breathing is the first thing we need to speak up and speak out. Only to an attentive eye does it become visible that Luke Willis Thompson‘s artwork is not a single image, but is composed of several photographs of a man peacefully lying in the grass. Various areas in the picture seem to be blurred, especially around the belly, but shoulders, eyelids, and lips also appear indistinct. (a) breathing: collective noun captures the often-unnoticed process of breathing.
The work is closely linked to the Black Lives Matter movement, whose demands for an end to racist violence gained influence after the murder of George Floyd. The phrase 'I can't breathe' is repeatedly heard on the footage of the arrest, and tragically turned out to be Floyd‘s last words. It became a metonym for the state of Black communities in America, in which being suffocated and silenced is a common experience.