Breath, 2003

Since rising to prominence in the 1980s, Shirazeh Houshiary (born 1955, Iran) has expanded her sculptural practice to encompass painting, installation, architectural projects, animation and film. “I set out to capture my breath,” she said in 2000, to “find the essence of my own existence, transcending name, nationality, cultures”.

Last exhibited in its full installation form during the Venice Biennale in 2013 and here newly reconfigured for Store Studios, Houshiary’s installation Breath features the evocative chants of Buddhist, Christian, Jewish and Islamic prayers, all emanating from four video screens within a darkened and enclosed space, clad in black felt. The sound is choreographed with the expanding and contracting breath of the vocalists. The chants of these four different traditions rise and fall, swell and dissipate, in a haunting chorus that fills the room with a potent atmosphere of both spiritual collaboration and political conflict, permeating beyond each of the walls.