The Breathing Lesson

Dora García
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In this piece by Dora García we witness a little girl taking a lesson in breathing technique. As she leaves her breathing (her life) in her trainer’s hands, The breathing lesson tackles issues to do with trust and intimacy, since to dispense the control of one’s breathing to an other is in itself an act of dispossession of one’s body.

If we can learn to breath, to control the rhythm and the time intervals between our inhalation and our exhalation, we can likewise prepare to follow the opposite process, that is, to learn to stop doing so. By minimising the intake of air, and by regulating the processes of systole and diastole such that these diminish in frequency, we can slow down the process such that we almost completely stop breathing. In this piece, it is the trainer who knows the technique and controls the process.

Taking our body to its limits is an exercise of self-control, but it can also be, as in this case, an instance of total predisposition and trust in an other person. This piece operates within this dilemma, and more than affirming, what it seems to be doing is opening the door to new questions. What type of relationship is going to take shape between these two people? What is the limit of trust in another? Does every bodily process have its symmetric opposite? Where is the border between submission and domination? Could it be that controlling one’s breathing is one way of maintaining one’s youth? These and other questions come up when watching this piece. It is an open work that doesn’t foreclose any of the possible answers.

Technical datasheet

  • Title: The Breathing Lesson
  • Direction: Dora García
  • Production: 2001.
  • Duration: 00:06:00
  • Formats: Betacam Digital - DVD
  • TV systems: PAL
  • License: Copyright