For Danish artist Jeppe Hein, breathing is more than just an involuntary activity required to live — it's a way to find balance in both his body and mind. That philosophy, and its global implications, can be found in his latest work, Breathe With Me.
Developed by Hein and ART 2030, a nonprofit working with art as "the key to achieve the UN Global Goals" and inspire action, Breathe With Me is an interactive art installation that highlights the impacts of climate change on the environment. And according to a new report released on Dec. 2 by ART 2030, the installation and its symbolic message have so far reached up to an estimated 93 million people around the world.
The installation first launched in September inside the UN headquarters and in Central Park during the UN Climate Action Summit and UN General Assembly Week, which attracted thousands of visitors.
Activists, world leaders, passersby, and children "painted their breath" in long, blue brushstrokes, turning each breath into one collective body to demonstrate that “the air we breathe is our connected world and climate.”
A reminder to protect the good air that we need & cherish. #BreatheWithMe#ART2030#UNGA.— Amina J Mohammed (@AminaJMohammed) September 22, 2019
"Life begins with an inhale & ends with an exhale. In-between we all breathe & live different lives. And yet, each breath keeps us together, connected, sharing the same air." Jeppe Hein pic.twitter.com/K4mEFfNl9I
“Breathe With Me are breathing watercolors painted by the public that visualize the invisible — our breath and the resultant relation between us — reminding us to cooperate if we want to share this world together today and in the future,” Hein said in the report.
At the installation, audiences were able to participate in a guided breathing exercise, and they later listened to speeches by Hein, UN Chief of Communications Campaigns Nannette Braun, and ART 2030 Founder and Director Luise Faurschou.
Since then, Breathe With Me installations have spread across the world. One installation in Denmark received recognition during the C40 Mayors Summit in Copenhagen in October, where the world's mayors, students, and more took part in the project.
“Breathe With Me connects the most fundamental thing we all know — our breath — with the biggest and most complicated issues — as climate change,” Faurschou said.
In addition to the interactive art project, which ART 2030 said reached 69 million people through international media attention and an estimated digital reach of 14 million, Breathe With Me has an accompanying social media campaign called "First Breathers." Described as an educational community workshop toolkit, it aims to encourage worldwide participation in Breathe With Me across various platforms, reaching more than 10 million people so far.
Hein and ART 2030 want to ignite a global movement by collaborating with international partners to facilitate Breathe With Me workshops and events across the world. The goal is to widen their reach and continue to raise awareness of the climate crisis and the Global Goals on a global scale.
“Life begins with an inhale, and ends with an exhale,” Hein noted. “In between, we all breathe and live different lives. And yet each breath keeps us all together, connected, sharing the same air.”