Matthias Kispert

The texture of air

Breath is liminal, changeable. Breathing opens the body to its surroundings, manifests the ways in which bodies are never closed or self-contained. Breathing has no teleology, instead thrives on repetition, continuous renewal. Through it, bodies absorb oxygen, smells, toxins; microorganisms spread, interdependencies are lived, bonds nurtured as well as repulsion provoked. Breathing is both involuntary and subject to conscious control, can be experienced variously as inarticulate or expressive, and connects thought, the body and its environs once the inhaled air is expelled in the shape of language.

The texture of air explores the intersections of breathing, language and bodies being-in-common with a collective voice performance. Participants are given a text score split into four alternating voices which contains simple performance instructions and a libretto through which breath and air become both subject and material of performance. This enables participation without prior musical knowledge or need for a rehearsal. Distributed across the space in four groups, bodies launch words across the expanse in the manner of balls being thrown in a game. Words are stretched, repeated, sentence fragments exchanged, the interpretation of the score worked out in the moment, collectively in a performance in which pre-determined structure alternates with spontaneous chaos.

Matthias Kispert, The texture of air, 2022


Matthias Kispert is an artist and researcher with an interest in the intersections of art, politics and activism. He has completed a practice-based PhD at the University of Westminster in 2021, using artistic research methods to investigate precarious work on digital labour platforms. He is a co-founder of Hyphen Journal and assistant editor at the Moving Image and Art Review Journal (MIRAJ). Alongside his current work, he also has a history as an electronic music composer and performer with the media artist collective D-Fuse, is a lecturer at the University of the Arts London and the University of Westminster, and is convening the Radical Film Network as well as the Committee on Activism for the International Initiative for Promoting Political Economy.