“the air we breathe” (2022/2023) is an expanded, experimental documentary that thinks through the complexities of air pollution by weaving together themes of environmental catastrophe, environmental racism, cultural and political shifts, and conspiracy.

Combining research about Edmonton’s air quality, along with personal storytelling and speculative imaginings, this project deeply considers the complicated ways in which our air impacts us: from the way that smells travel through it and the memories they evoke; to the physical impacts of pollutants through shared inhalation; to the ways in which the air serves as a metaphor of connection in a cultural sense. Exploring the systemically racist decisions that result in unequally distributed impacts of air pollutants across geographies, this work considers the act of breathing as one of both political and social potential.

A participatory element took place across Edmonton during the summer of 2022, as a way to think through these issues with a collective of others. Taking place through both the mail and online, this collective endeavour spent time thinking about the ways that smell and memory intertwine across issues of air pollution and social/cultural shifts.

I’m grateful to: Chelsea Boos, Mitch Chalifoux, Soni Dasmohapatra, Nadia Kurd, Grace Law, and Elsa Robinson, for thinking more deeply along with me about the impacts of air pollution across the summer of 2022.

A gallery exhibition of the work opens at Gallery 44 in Toronto on January 6, 2023, curated by Lillian O’Brien Davis.

With thanks to the Edmonton Arts Council for supporting this project!

Background for Gallery44 Digital

Chapters (from the summer of 2022):

Week one
(July 15 – 22)

Week two
(July 29 – August 5)

Week three
(August 19 – 26)

Week four
(Sept 9 – 16)