Breathing Pavilion

This work is part of Common Build, an umbrella initiative; learn more about it here.

This work is part of Downtown Brooklyn Partnership Design Installation, an umbrella initiative; learn more about it here.


    March 16–May 11, 2021
    Breathing Pavilion by Ekene Ijeoma created a public space of reprieve during this time of intense hardship and loss.

    About Breathing Pavilion

    March 16–May 11, 2021

    The Plaza at 300 Ashland, Brooklyn

    Breathing Pavilion comprised a 30-foot circle of 20 nine-foot two-tone illuminated inflatable columns. These columns slowly modulated in brightness to illustrate a deep breathing technique designed to bring calm. Visitors were invited to breathe in time with the changing light and attune themselves to a shared rhythm of respite.

    Created in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and systemic racial injustice in the United States, Breathing Pavilion offered sanctuary at a time of intense hardship and loss, suggested a paradigm shift towards communion and meditative stillness, and created an accessible space of reprieve when the act of breathing itself is under siege.

    Breathing Pavilion is part of Van Alen Institute’s Public Realm R+D program, intended to surface the work of emerging designers and test new strategies to bring people together in public space.

    The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership Design Installation is co-produced by Van Alen Institute and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.

    Presented with support from Two Trees Management Co.

    About the Artist

    “Between the ongoing struggles in the racial and political movements in the United States and the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be difficult to find the time and space to breathe deeply and rest well. I held my breath for most of last year, waiting to exhale into a new administration and new vaccines. It will still take some time before we see large-scale change. Until then, in these next few weeks, this pavilion is here to invite the public to breathe into the change within each of us, in sync with one another.”

    —Ekene Ijeoma

    Ekene Ijeoma is an artist, professor of Media Arts and Science at MIT, and founder/director of the Poetic Justice group at MIT Media Lab. Through both his studio and lab at MIT, Ijeoma researches social inequality across multiple fields including social science to develop artworks in sound, video, multimedia, sculpture and installation.

    Ijeoma’s work has been commissioned and presented by art institutions including Contemporary Art Museum of Houston, The Kennedy Center, Museum of the City of New York, Neuberger Museum of Art, and Annenberg Space for Photography. Ijeoma’s practice has also been supported by grants, fellowships and residencies including Creative Capital, Map Fund, Wave Farm, The Kennedy Center, and New York Foundation for the Arts.



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    Breathing Pavilion hosted a weekly music series of site-specific performances featuring solo wind and percussion jazz musicians in meditative sets. View archived live streams of the performances below.

    Kalia Vandever, Trombone
    Tuesday, 3/23

    Melanie Charles, Flute
    Tuesday, 3/30
    View archived live stream.

    Joel Ross, Vibraphones
    Tuesday, 4/6
    View archived live stream.

    Baba Don Babatunde, Percussion
    Tuesday, 4/13
    View archived live stream.

    Neil Clarke, Percussion
    Tuesday, 4/20
    View archived live stream.

    Lakecia Benjamin, Saxophone
    Tuesday, 4/27
    View archived live stream.

    Participatory Drum Circle led by Mr. Fitz of the Brooklyn Music School
    Tuesday, 5/4

    Keyon Harrold, Trumpet
    Saturday, 5/8
    View archived live stream.