1 × 2 in.
Open edition, first printing of 55 copies
Breathe was created as an activist tool in rapid response to the decision by a New York grand jury not to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo for the chokehold killing of Eric Garner.
The book’s structure, which tumbles open eleven times, references the eleven utterances of the phrase “I can’t breathe” by Eric Garner, throughout the videotaped struggle that led to his death. The repetition also speaks to the media coverage surrounding the event, including the replaying of the cell phone video footage from which the book’s images are taken.
As the book progresses the text becomes more urgent, simultaneously growing larger and more distorted.
Eventually the structure begins to reveal a second layer of text, which combines with the truncated fragment “—can’t breathe” to create new phrases. Each new phrase changes the readers’ relationship to Garner. After the relentless repetition of the disturbing imagery and text, the book ends on the more hopeful note, “We Breathe,” which suggests that positive change can come about through the solidarity of the multitude.
The books were distributed freely in public places during protests surrounding Garner’s case, Ferguson, and others. To that end, the book is Xerox printed and pocket-sized (about 1 × 2 in. folded) to allow for democratic distribution.