Take My Breath Away

Art Life , Exhibitions Feb 01, 2013 No Comments

From Carrie Miller

Breathing is something we take for granted, except for the times we concentrate on it. Paradoxically this can then induce panic that makes us gasp for breath.

The concept of the breath as a metaphor for our struggle with our relationships is central to Daniel Mudie Cunningham’s new work, Take My Breath Away.


Human connections often operate at a background level in our lives until they are raised to the level of explicitness because of anxieties about them. The video work offers an utterly compelling portrait of the intense push and pull of the self-other relation stripped down to its fundamental elements. Cunningham stands opposite artist Dani Marti as they perform the act of breathing into a white balloon, passing it back and forth, taking in each other’s breath. It’s a symbolic representation of the way we are both reliant on each other – breathing as the most basic form of life support – and the ways in which we also suffocate and deplete each other.

The work takes its inspiration from Marina Abramovic and Ulay’s iconic 1977 performance Breathing In Breathing Out but extends it with the use of the balloon as both an infantile yet strangely erotic object, both sucked and blown. This adds a dimension to the work which connects the viewer to primal feelings of the need for human connection based in our original maternal one and the way this is played out in intimate adult relationships.

There is also both a literal and conceptual link to the exhibition on display at Peloton at the same time. Cherine Fahd’s 365 Attempts to Meditate documents the artist’s attempt to meditate every day for a year. The device of the balloon is used to represent both the meditative breathing practice which Fahd sometimes failed to perform and the simple beauty of the successful aesthetic object that has been achieved in its place.

Until February 23
Peloton Gallery, Surry Hills.
Pic: Daniel Mudie Cunningham, Take My Breath Away, 2012. HD single channel video, 4 mins 21 sec. Camera and editor: Tina Havelock Stevens. Courtesy of the artist.

Andrew Frost

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.