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Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

Last Breath (Último Suspiro)

Artist

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
Born in Mexico City in 1967

Title

Last Breath (Último Suspiro)

Date

2012

Materials

Motor, bellows, Plexiglas, digital display, custom circuitry, Arduino processor, respiratory tubing, brown paper bag, 3/6

Dimensions

Variable dimensions

Credits

Purchase, the Canada Council for the Arts' Acquisition Assistance Program and the Janet G. Bailey Fund, inv. 2013.792.1-2

Collection

Quebec and Canadian Art

Internationally renowned for his interactive public art installations, which are exercises in what he calls “relational architecture,” Montreal artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer creates works that explore the frontiers of the human condition. Last Breath is designed to store and perpetually circulate a human breath. Resembling an artificial respirator, it includes a paper bag that inflates and deflates in a way that mirrors human breathing. The apparatus that generates the breath is activated 10,000 times a day (the typical respiratory frequency of an adult), and 158 of the breaths are sighs.


The artist sees his installation as the biometric portrait of an individual. By preserving and “visibly” circulating a person’s breath—the essence of life—he allows them to continue to live and “breathe” even after death. The breath preserved in this edition of the work is that of the Buena Vista Social Club singer Omara Portuondo, now in her eighties.

© Rafael Lozano-Hemmer / SOCAN (2020)

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