Breathe: Lahore: A city-wide creative intervention and symposium on clean air action, October 2024

Posted on 11.07.2024

Since 2012 Breathe, the multi-site public artwork by artist Dryden Goodwin, has utilised highly-visible artistic interventions to explore pressing policy issues around the global health emergency of air pollution. Produced by Invisible Dust, Breathe features over 1,300 original drawings by Goodwin of leading clean air campaigners ‘fighting for breath’ – both literally and figuratively.

In the form of large-scale artwork poster sequences and animated nighttime projections, Breathe has previously taken over bridges, buildings and billboards across London and the UK, viewed by over 13 million people to date.

A great example of how art isn’t just there to entertain, but to educate us, too

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan on Dryden Goodwin’s Breathe

International tour of Breathe
To date, Breathe has told London’s story of air pollution; generating wide public discourse around city infrastructure and health policies, but each city has its own.  We’re delighted to announce that Breathe is now embarking on an international tour; the artwork grown by Goodwin in each city to include a leading local clean air campaigner, forming a growing ‘army’ for change across the globe; and an exciting, inter-city dialogue of exchange and learnings around clean air action.

Breathe highlights the fact that we don’t all breathe the same air; emphasising that our socio-economic status often impacts the air we breathe. In each new destination, Breathe will collaborate with and provide a high-profile platform for those most impacted and vulnerable in our cities.

Lahore, Pakistan, October 2024

First stop – Pakistan! This October Breathe will have a new public intervention across the city of Lahore Pakistan on the invitation of the Lahore Biennale Foundation for the Lahore Biennale 03, opening on the 5th October 2024.

This new Pakistan clean air activist figure – to be identified and recruited through partner NGOs and bodies working within environment, health and policy in the region –will be filmed and drawn by Goodwin to join the ranks alongside the six other high-profile campaigners from London (including Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah CBE); a chain of action connecting London and Lahore; the global south to the global north.

Why Lahore? 

Air pollution is a critical environmental issue that disproportionately affects the Global South. The rapid pace of urbanisation in the Global South has also contributed significantly to air pollution, as people migrate from rural areas to cities in search of better economic opportunities, urban areas become densely populated, leading to increased vehicular traffic, construction activities and energy consumption.

Major Pakistan cities such as Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad, and Peshawar face significant challenges with air pollution due to rapid urbanisation and high concentration of vehicles alongside agricultural practices, the brick kiln industry and the burning of biomass and solid fuels for cooking and heating.

Breathe: Lahore in October 2024 will provide a vital opportunity to build on the UK learnings around the multiple-levers for change and the role of art-led civic engagement in air pollution issues, to include the Pakistan and Global South context.

In London, Breathe collaborated with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Transport for London, Network Rail, Imperial College, Slade School of Fine Art, UCL and another 60+ key organisations working within health, environment and policy to best animate public discourse on air pollution and signpost real world, tangible change (like the ULEZ extension, ‘Ella’s Law’). This methodology for leveraging impact will be replicated in Lahore – and we are connecting up with the key agencies and individuals striving to make change in the region – such as the amazing crowd-sourced, community-driven Pakistan Air Quality Initiative.

Breathe: Lahore: SymposiumDetails Coming Soon!

In October, to accompany the launch of Breathe across the city and with the support of the Global Creative Economy Council and UCL, Invisible Dust will be delivering a Breathe Global Knowledge Exchange Symposium connecting up clean air efforts in Pakistan and the UK in Lahore, supported by AHRC funding.

Attended (in-person and online) by figures and agencies representing both UK and Pakistan efforts on air pollution from within arts, policy, environment and city infrastructure, the symposium be hosted as part of the 3rd Lahore Biennale on the 8th October, in a central Lahore venue. Join our mailing list to hear first about this event.

Comparing what we learn from mounting the project in the different city contexts of London and Lahore, and bringing together key actors working in both Pakistan and the UK, this symposium will share an enriched understanding of the role creative interventions can play globally to illuminate the policy changes, civic and business engagement required to tackle the major challenge of air pollution. 

As part of this process, we are also setting up a global steering group of leading figures to share knowledge around this event, and a learnings report around best practice and challenges in this area will be compiled and shared with partners and the wider sector later in 2025.

If you are interested in hearing more, please email lucy@invisibledust.com and join the Invisible Dust newsletter.

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