The illuminated installation encourages communal calm and hope amid crisis
New York-based Ekene Ijeoma – artist, designer, academic and founder of the Poetic Justice group at MIT Media Lab – has delivered an immersive installation in Downtown Brooklyn titled Breathing Pavilion. Consisting of 20 illuminated, inflatable, 2.7m-high columns arranged in a circle, the pavilion aims to provide a sanctuary at a time marked by the continuing crises of the Covid-19 pandemic and systemic racial injustice in the United States.
Using computational design, the two-tone columns slowly modulate in brightness to illustrate a deep breathing technique designed to bring calm. Visitors are invited to breathe in time with the changing light. ‘Between the ongoing struggles in the racial and political movements in the United States and the Covid-19 pandemic, it can be difficult to find the time and space to breathe deeply and rest well,’ says Ijeoma.
‘I held my breath for most of last year, waiting to exhale into a new administration and new vaccines. It will still take some time before we see large-scale change. Until then, in these next few weeks, this pavilion is here to invite the public to breathe into the change within each of us, in sync with one another.’
Located at The Plaza at 300 Ashland in the Brooklyn Cultural District, Breathing Pavilion will be installed until 11 May 2021. It hosts a series of site-specific events, including musical performances.
The installation is delivered by Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and Van Alen Institute with support from Two Trees Management. It forms part of Van Alen Institute’s Public Realm R&D programme, intended to platform the work of emerging designers and test new strategies to bring people together in public space in the wake of the pandemic.
‘Last year permanently changed our relationship to public space,’ says Deborah Marton, executive director of Van Alen Institute. ‘Ekene Ijeoma’s installation is a profound and beautiful example of how public space can help heal us, safely and together. Breathing Pavilion is an inspiration for the kind of city we want for our future.’
Photography by Kris Graves
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