I Breathe, You Breathe, We Breathe: How a daily habitual movement appears as an action and grows into a gesture through listening

Leonie Persyn


In this article I wonder whether the non-breath in-between inhalation and exhalation and inherent to breathing equals what Hannah Arendt calls a space of appearance. Can the non-breath be considered as a place where human plurality and the self emerge (Arendt 2015, 160-163)? Or in other words, can a daily and habitual movement like breathing provide the space for action to appear? Can our breathing act? And if so, do we speak (up) through our breathing? Through listening to the breathing bodies in Grey (Kinga Jaczewska, 2018), Toute une nuit and Rendez-vous d’Anna (Chantal Akerman, 1982 & 1978) I search for answers to these questions.


non-breath, the in-between, action, gesture, motion, intimacy, listening

Full Text:



Akerman, Chantal, dir. 1978. Rendez-vous d’anna.

Akerman, Chantal, dir. 1982. Toute une nuit.

Arendt, Hannah. (1958) 1998. The Human Condition. 2nd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Arendt, Hannah. (1958) 2015. De menselijke conditie. Translated by C. Houwaard. Amsterdam: Boom.

Arendt, Hannah. 1978. The Life of the Mind. New York: Harvest/HBJ.

Bachelard, Gaston. (1958) 2014. The Poetics of Space. New York: Penguin.

Berlant, Lauren. 1998. “Intimacy: A Special Issue.” Critical Inquiry 24 (2): 281–88. https://doi.org/10.1086/448875

Designmate Pvt. Ltd. 2015. ‘Science - Respiratory System.’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kacMYexDgHg

Ingold, Tim. 2011. Being Alive. New York and London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203818336

Irigaray, Luce. 2017. To Be Born: Genesis of a New Human Being. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

Jaczewska Kinga. 2017. Grey. https://www.kinga-jaczewska.com/grey

Jaczewska Kinga. 2017. ‘home is where you pay to stay.’ https://kingajaczewska.blogspot.com/p/photo-by-kinga-jaczewska-s-peaking.html

Jaczewska Kinga. 2019. ‘Silence is a Movement is a Polyglot.’ http://kingajaczewska.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_25.html

Kasulis, Thomas P. 2002. Intimacy or Integrity: Philosophy and Cultural Difference. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

Louppe, Laurence. (1997) 2010. Poetics of Contemporary Dance. Translated by Sally Gardner. Alton, UK: Dance Books.

Main, Lesly. 2012. Directing the Dance Legacy of Doris Humphrey: The Creative Impulse of Reconstruction. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.

Roelstraete, Dieter, ed. 2012. Chantal Akerman: Too Far, Too Close. Brussels: Ludion.

Rouquet, Odile. 1991. La tête aux pieds. Paris: Recherche en mouvement.

Utrecht, Luuk. 1988. Van Hofballet tot postmoderne dans. De geschiedenis van het akademische ballet en de modern dans. Zutphen: Walburg Pers.

Voegelin, Salomé. 2010. Listening to Noise and Silence: A philosophy of sound art. New York: Continuum.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21476/PP.2019.51260

Copyright (c) 2019 Leonie Persyn

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.