project image
Geof Huth

first performed on May 23, 2020
Artist’s Apartment, 1 West Street
performed once in 2020


New York, NY


Performance is usually associated with the expulsion of breath. One breathes in to accumulate enough air to speak or sing. The process of breathing is essential during a performance, keeping the performer oxygenated and alive. My performance occurred about two months into the maw of the coronavirus pandemic, so it thinks about breathing even when no breath is taken in or referred to. Performance usually includes the presence of the performer and an audience in the same space, yet this one occurred remotely from any audience except my wife. My goal was to discover the opportunities remoteness allowed.

This performance overlapped with another of mine, a durational event entitled “Pandemic Isolation,” which lasted for 105 days, during which time I could not clip any hair on my body. That performance measured the time I was in isolation and incorporated this poetry performance within its body.

I began with a deep breath and a glossolalic poem putatively about the pandemic. I spoke of the effects of the pandemic upon people, but only through intonation and sounds that suggested a feeling yet never a real meaning. Following this, I read a short poem about the deaths we had already seen by that time, quite few considering those who have perished afterwards. The poem inhabited darkness.

I had created in the month before this performance 30 poems, each a scrap of paper from ancient records and each one word long. I assembled these within small, corked vials, along with other detritus related to their original creation (pins, ribbons, paper clips, wax seals). My isolation allowed for intimacy. I could lean into the screen and show the audience each of these tiny poems as I spoke them into their ears.

I experienced intimacy with my distant audience, but I could also rise up onto my feet and read them poems about breath and voice, about the human process of communicating with words traded through the air. I showed them poems in the form of sculptures, so they could see the details of these physical things far away from them as I read out the poems’ disjointed texts.

I ended with a song, so breath dominated the finish. The song lacked any words, so all of its words were merely emotions, and I sang it to the harbor outside my window, the dozens of people online, and my wife resting on the couch.