17/01/2015 — 14/03/2015

Ian Whittlesea

Breath is Life

In the late nineteenth century the self-styled Dr. Otoman Zar-Adusht Ha’nish founded Mazdaznan, a quasi-religious movement of vegetarian diet and body consciousness, which flourished across the USA and Europe until the 1940’s.

The breathing exercises that Mazdaznan advocated are believed to have inspired a variety of figures including Nietzsche, H.G. Wells and J. H. Kellogg. Thomas Edison is also said to have been deeply influenced by its teachings and to have named the first light bulb Mazda in its honour.

Drawing on this, Whittlesea presents a single Mazda bulb hanging in the centre of the rotunda gallery that repeatedly fades up to an intense brightness and back down to black. ‘A Breathing Bulb’ continues to slowly pulse for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week until the end of the exhibition, illuminating the Grundy and making it seem like a living being.

Alongside the bulb will be a series of 14 drawings of art students undertaking Mazdaznan breathing exercises.

Artist Johannes Itten was a devout Mazdaznan and taught the exercises to students at the Bauhaus, the renowned art school founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar Germany, and three light boxes in the downstairs foyer illuminate photographs of contemporary foundation art students from Kingston University performing the same movements.

ARTIST TALK: 14 March 2.30pm. FREE but please book your place by calling The Grundy on 01253 478170 or email: grundyartgallery@blackpool.gov.uk