HD video and 16mm film, Dual Screen Projection, Colour with sound, Duration 11’ 40”, Dimensions variable
(Single screen version 2023)
Eupnea, Installation View, Serlachius Museum Gustaf, 2022
Eupnea is the medical term for the effortless normal breathing pattern common to all mammals. The film Eupnea brings together several strands of research and my own life experiences to take the viewer on a surreal journey, through life, death, loss, longing and maternal desire, the uniting element being ‘the breath’.
I have been thinking about making this film, or some version of it for more than ten years. Ever since my son went through life saving open-heart surgery at the age of four.
I knew since birth that his future was uncertain. He was born with a very complicated series of heart defects, which meant he struggled for air. I had to closely monitor his respiration for signs of deterioration, as this was the only external indication that he was becoming ill.
I felt that death was very close during those early years. Life and death are two sides of the same coin – as soon as you are born, you are on an inevitable journey. In 2016, I witnessed my father take his final breath. It was just he and I in the room, and I viscerally felt his passing through to the ‘other side’.
In the autumn of 2019 during an artist’s residency in Finland, I researched into the lives of Ruth and Sissi Serlachius, the first and second wives of the industrialist Gösta Serlachius. I drew on points of contact between the women’s biographies and my own experiences of illness and motherhood. I felt that I finally had a shape in which I could explore the connections between breathing and life force (linking to Ruth’s interest in Spiritualism) while recalling the anguish of the parent who learns of the fragility of life (Sissi’s young son died in her arms on the way to hospital).
Half way through the project, the Covid-19 pandemic triggered a global fixation with breathing and the dangers of breathlessness. I had nightmares about suffocation and the feverish sense of being stuffed with cotton wool during a bout of the illness.
I perform all the roles myself, except the male doctor and the Finnish breathwork instructor.
EUPNEA was first shown as a two-channel gallery installation as part of a suite of works that included drawings and photographs, at Serlachius Museum, Finland. The single screen version was produced in 2023.