“Out of Breath”

“Out of Breath,” audience-participatory installation, mixed media, 5’x10’, 1995

“Out of Breath” is an installation & artist’s book that explores environmental illness. The artist’s book, made out of plexiglass and tissue paper, includes a narrative describing the evolution of an environmental illness. Images of lungs, drawn in black ink wash, are superimposed on text describing the effects of smog in Southern California on the immune systems of residents in the area and the compromises being made by the Air Quality Management Division to meet the needs of the local business community.

The 13 page bookwork hangs unfolded (it has an accordion binding) from the ceiling like a text filled layer of smog. Two pedestals are located underneath and at each end of the bookwork. On each pedestal is a painted, photocollaged box that looks like a large tissue box. The images painted on the boxes are faces of screaming, coughing women and under each painted face one can barely make out a skyline image of downtown Los Angeles submerged in smog. One box invites the audience to share a story about their experience with environmental illness. There are two slots in this box - one for paper to write on and the other contains two booklets which detail statistical information about smog in Southern California and the effects of smog on the human body. This installation was displayed in Gallery B, California State University, Long Beach (1995).