|Set up for "Keep on Breathing" by Logan Gabrielle Schulman
Once on the ground, Schulman emailed people to let them know about the project. "KEEPING ON (breathing)" would take place at noon and 6 pm for a couple of days at locations disclosed 30 minutes in advance. Schulman had requested permission from New College to mount the work but was informed there wasn't sufficient time to get permits in place. And so the work became a "guerilla" or pop up event. (So far as I am aware, this didn't present any problems.)
As Schulman read, the pump periodically breathed life into the figure. The pump was loud, and Schulman would pause reading as we watched the figure's legs straighten and the body become fuller. Soon, though, the pump cut off, and the body deflated again after its unsuccessful attempt at continued life. It was disconcerting, and the analogy to what's happening at New College was clear.
To Schulman, "KEEPING ON (breathing)" was a way for the New College community to collectively grieve what's happening. On the artist's website, the project was described in part as follows: "Ancient Judaism calls a person in the throes at the end of life -- that liminal state of here/not here -- a goses. It is said to be a deed of paramount importance to go and sit with a goses, to hold space with them, to treat them as a full person, to not treat them as if they're gone, but simply to reflect with them and with one another, sharing space, and breath, and time together."
The question Schulman is ultimately asking is whether New College as we know it will, like Pompeii, become an artifact, an experiment to be studied in the future. The writing seems to be on the wall or, perhaps, in the ash.