BREATHING TEST: Dying Melody: 9 Evenings – Breathing and Staring

George Saxon (Artist)

Research output: Practice-Based and Non-textual ResearchExhibition


9 Evenings – Breathing and Staring, 2-3 October 2015, was shown at VIVID Projects, Birmingham. Commissioned for 9 Evenings: Redux, a season of new collaborative commissions in which artists will critique, re-work and react to the seminal 1966 series 9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering.( on their recent groundbreaking projects with the health sector, this is the first collaboration between Darren Joyce, George Saxon and Justin Wiggan. Presenting new research exploring empathy, nostalgia and recall through audio, performance and film. Their individual contributions clash, coexist and repel each other. Saxon’s ‘BREATHING TEST: Dying Melody’, is a new durational work that focuses on 'breathing' and the limitations caused by childhood respiratory illness and auto-immune weaknesses, are explored through 'live' (performance) and 'archived' video recordings. The liminal gap between memory, recall and 'nostalgia' are processed in this work, as Saxon (in the guise of a military band performer) lies prostrate on a bed, whilst breathing and blowing though the instrument of a saxophone, evoking a theatrical/cinematic mis-en-scene. The sound of breathing and musical phrases recall nostalgic urban melodies, as the struggle to breathe elicits scars of illness and respiratory difficulty. The audience is enticed to have close proximity and intimate connection to the performer at his bedside. Cycles of breathing and staring between performer and audience coexist in uncomfortable spatial empathy, as the breathing is amplified through the performer's lungs, the mouthpiece, the keys and bell of the saxophone. The duration of the performance responds to the time and rhythm of the video loopings and audio/visual feeds realised by Joyce and Wiggan. The work explores illness and defiance of pain whilst questioning audience response and the vacant fixation behavior that invades the privacy of the human other: the spaces between pity and sympathy on the one hand and potential empathy on the other (performance duration: 2 hours).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2015
Event9 EVENINGS: REDUX: Breathing and Staring - Vivid Projects, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Duration: 1 Oct 20153 Oct 2015

Additional Information

For 9 Evenings: Redux, Vivid Projects has commissioned a group of artists to collaborate, critique, re-work and react to this seminal programme. The programme combines new collaborative commissions with documentation of three key performances from the original 9 Evenings series. The groundbreaking inter-disciplinary collaborations seen in the work of John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg and Yvonne Rainer are precursors of the creative collaborations between disciplines that now underpin digital culture.

Line and language, digital ethics and the body, motion-capture and gesture. Join us for the programme launch as part of Digbeth First Friday and meet some of the artists we have commissioned including George Saxon, Rashaad Newsome and Gabriel Shalom.


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