From midnight to 1am, each night during May 2021, RAWdance was poised 1,070 feet above the city, lighting up Jim Campbell’s “Day for Night” installation as part of the artist’s studio’s monthly “midnight artist collaboration,” in partnership with Boston Properties, owner of Salesforce Tower. Created by RAWdance Co-Artistic Directors Wendy Rein and Ryan T. Smith, Collected Breath featured eight dancers embodying an elaborate breathing score, synced up with original, streamable music from local composer Joel St. Julien.
Breath had never had more weight, or been more acutely tied to our physical and emotional lives, than at the moment this work was created. A deadly virus and smoke from forest fires put our air at risk. Masks are a constant accessory. And the horrific phrase “I can’t breathe”, the last words of Eric Garner, George Floyd, and too many other Black Americans, stand as a tragic metaphor for systemic racism, violence, and oppression in this country.
Collected Breath connected watchers throughout the city through the unconscious synchronization of breath. With footage individually filmed by company dancers under social distancing protocols, and edited by Rein, the work lit up 11,000 LEDs with a synced, streamable rhythmic breathing score developed by frequent RAWdance collaborator Joel St. Julien.
Header image by Emma Strebel. 1st gallery image courtesy of Jeff Chamberlin; additional gallery images by Emma Strebel