The Power Plant

BREATHLESS

BREATHLESS

Past Exhibition

May 19 – Sep 18 2022

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LEAD DONOR

Nuyten Dime Foundation

MAJOR DONORS

Jack Weinbaum Family Foundation The Ira Gluskin & Maxine Granovsky Gluskin Charitable Foundation

SUPPORT DONORS

Andrew Chisholm and Laurie Thomson Fund at Toronto Foundation Susan and Larry Dime Masoud Borumand Rozeta Ghatari Liza Mauer

SUPPORTED BY

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Guest Curator

Ala Roushan

Assistant Curator

Jacqueline Kok, Nancy McCain & Bill Morneau Curatorial Fellow, 2022-23

BREATHLESS arises from today’s urgent concerns about our shared atmosphere—including the global pandemic, racial injustice (“I can’t breathe”), forest fires, and carbon emissions—all of which create a sense of uncertainty about our future.

Conceived as an ecosystem, BREATHLESS manifests as an outdoor pavilion with integrated artworks that address the vulnerabilities of the breath. The pavilion builds upon architects Alison and Peter Smithson’s prototype, House of the Future, which was exhibited in 1956—a time, much like today, that was characterized by threats from the air and by a fascination with climate control technology. BREATHLESS inverts the inaccessible private courtyard of the Smithsons’ show house into a public pavilion, challenging the closed condition of domestic space and the obsession with uncontaminated air.

BREATHLESS is animated by a cyclical rhythm from dusk to dawn, with Julius von Bismarck’s video installation transforming the pavilion’s air-filled walls, penetrating the enclosure with a fiery projection of a world engulfed in smoke and smog. As the sun rises, the video evaporates, revealing a hazy gaze in the interior of the pavilion and inviting audiences onto Flaka Haliti’s ground of shifting microparticles, which blur the boundaries between inside and outside—referring to both architecture and the body. As if emerging from the liquified ground and surviving suffocation, Marguerite Humeau’s imaginary creature of genetically evolved respiratory tracts breathes the air of a new atmosphere. Deep from within, Donna Kukama’s voice interrupts the circadian rhythm of the pavilion with the asynchronous cadence of her breath sharing personal narratives as we breathe together.

Flaka Haliti (born in Pristina, Kosovo, 1982) lives in Munich and represented her home country Kosovo at the Venice Biennale in 2015. She has exhibited internationally, was a scholarship holder of the Villa Romana in Florence in 2017, and is a recipient of the Ars Viva Prize and the Henkel Award.

Marguerite Humeau (born in France, 1986) lives and works in London, UK. Humeau’s work stages the crossing of great distances in time and space, transitions between animal and mineral, and encounters between personal desires and natural forces. Among many exhibitions and public collections, Humeau is a participating artist in the 2022 Venice Biennale.

Donna Kukama (born in South Africa, 1981) is an interdisciplinary artist whose work is informed by performance-based research processes. Kukama has exhibited and presented performances at several notable institutions and museums, including Tate Modern, London, and the South African National Gallery, Cape Town.

Julius von Bismarck (born in Breisach am Rhein, Germany, 1983) grew up in Riad, Saudi Arabia, and currently lives in Berlin. Associating visual arts with other fields of research and experimentation, von Bismarck’s artistic practice is defined by an in-depth and complex exploration of the phenomena of perception, or the representation and reconstruction of reality.

BREATHLESS is organized and presented in partnership with The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery and ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021–2022.

Flaka Haliti, Marguerite Humeau, Donna Kukama, and Julius von Bismarck, BREATHLESS.

Flaka Haliti, Marguerite Humeau, Donna Kukama, and Julius von Bismarck, BREATHLESS.

Flaka Haliti, Marguerite Humeau, Donna Kukama, and Julius von Bismarck, BREATHLESS. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Flaka Haliti, Marguerite Humeau, Donna Kukama, and Julius von Bismarck, BREATHLESS.

Flaka Haliti, Marguerite Humeau, Donna Kukama, and Julius von Bismarck, BREATHLESS.

Flaka Haliti, Marguerite Humeau, Donna Kukama, and Julius von Bismarck, BREATHLESS.

Flaka Haliti, Marguerite Humeau, Donna Kukama, and Julius von Bismarck, BREATHLESS.

Flaka Haliti, Marguerite Humeau, Donna Kukama, and Julius von Bismarck, BREATHLESS.

 

Flaka Haliti, Marguerite Humeau, Donna Kukama, and Julius von Bismarck, BREATHLESS. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Flaka Haliti, Marguerite Humeau, Donna Kukama, and Julius von Bismarck, BREATHLESS. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Flaka Haliti, Marguerite Humeau, Donna Kukama, and Julius von Bismarck, BREATHLESS. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Flaka Haliti, Marguerite Humeau, Donna Kukama, and Julius von Bismarck, BREATHLESS. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Julius von Bismark, still of Fire with Fire, 2020. LED screen, video, stereo sound, 67 min. Courtesy the artist, alexander levy, Berlin, and Sies+H ke, Düsseldorf. 

Marguerite Humeau, Waste I - 1 (a respiratory tract mutating into industrial waste), 2019. Courtesy the artist and CLEARING New York, Brussels. Photo: Eden Krsmanovic.

About the Artists


Donna Kukama

Donna Kukama is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice engages performance art as a tool for creative research. Her work presents institutions, monuments, gestures of protest, rumors, and fleeting moments that are as real as they are fictitious. Shifting between performance, video, text, sound, and multimedia installations, her practice takes on a form that is experimental, applying methods that are deliberately undisciplined.

Donna Kukama

Flaka Haliti

Flaka Haliti was born in 1982 in Prishtina, and currently lives and works in Munich. Haliti’s artistic practice includes mixed media, sculpture and spatial installation with a decidedly site-specific approach. Appropriation and re-arrangement are continuous lines in her works, whereby new aesthetic patterns are created. Haliti emphasizes altered perceptions on a visual level, as well as in conceptual methods to engage in political reflections and geopolitical preoccupations.

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Julius von Bismarck

Julius von Bismarck is a German artist currently living and working in Berlin, Germany. Von Bismarck is a multi-media artist using everything from photography and video to installation and performance, in works that confront human perception and experience.

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Marguerite Humeau

Marguerite Humeau is an interdisciplinary artist who creates sculptures, installations, and videos. Her work brings together many areas of research, including literature, biology, history, and astronomy to form surreal narrative experiences. To prepare for a project, Humeau speaks to specialists in theses fields. She then creates work that attempts to bring together their worlds while also pointing to holes in various spheres of knowledge.

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