A collaboration borne of precious time, 14 breaths surfaces in this world as a limited-edition, ceremonial sculpture by Ross Gibson, in collaboration with Kathryn Bird and A Published Event (APE). Mujo also collaborated within this process to produce a number of hand-built ceramic incense holders.
'14 Breaths [asks us to] pay attention to the preciousness of each moment, each moment we share in time and space. This project is an apparatus for that attentiveness.' RG*
Published in an edition of /65, one for every year of the artist's life, 14 breaths might be compared to a Japanese tea ceremony kit, reconfigured as an aesthetic mourning mechanism, with time implicit.
Why 14 breaths? 14–20 breaths is the range of breaths that a human body takes per minute. It became increasingly clear to us that attentiveness to the duration of a breath has been at the heart of Ross’s work for many decades, perhaps beginning with a focus on the breath of actors in cinema studies, and very explicitly a focus in the haiku-esque utterances of his work in the 25 or so years since ‘Life After Wartime’. As we get to the stage in his living body where each breath is precious, 14 breaths + 14 days of mourning + 14 sticks of incense + 14 randomly-selected cards in each box all seemed to be a perfect structuring system for this mourning-ceremony kit.
'I had an idea in mind for these super-short utterances that I've been composing for a long time. They are partly informed by Haiku. But really I give them their shape, not so much according to Haiku rules, but more according to a simple rule: that this composed utterance needs to be said in a breath & received in a breath. That's the duration of them. Also: said in a breath, received in a breath & interpreted within a blink, the duration of a blink.' RG*
Each edition of this artwork offers 14 short utterances (from a field of 28), making each collection of breaths unique to that edition. In this sense, every edition of 14 breaths, is one of a kind. Ross defines this edition as 'one unique thing amongst all the unique moments of our existence.'
Made by hand in Australia, each edition of 14 breaths comprises; 14 breaths (printed on 600gsm Mohawk Superfine paper); 14 lengths of White Cloud / Haku-un incense (Shoeyeido); one hand-formed black clay incense holder (Elizabeth Leslie/Mujo); two lengths of rare Tasmanian timber, magnets (Linda Fredheim); one custom designed, hand-made cloth bound and lined box (Pandoras Boxes).
I was honoured with the privilege of collaborating with Ross Gibson and A Published Event (APE) to produce a limited edition series of hand built ceramic incense holders. During this process we landed on using a charcoal black coloured clay – embodying ash, earth, and death.
The ultimate mystery of death is at the core of the work, and the belief that death can be enacted so much better than the way that we do it here in white Australia. My wish is that 14 Breaths suggests a different way, by implying within it a process of mourning and marking that can be performed by each recipient in their own way in their own time & their own space. KB*
14 breaths, 2022. Ross Gibson, Kathryn Bird, A Published Event. Mixed media edition.