Gita Ralleigh and Miny Walker are medical doctors at Imperial NHS who worked through the pandemic. Miny was seconded onto ITU and has used her ceramics training to produce masks and leaves in white porcelain, to reflect upon her experience of how walking in nature helped her cope. Gita has taken a translation of Achille Mbembe’s paper The Universal Right to Breathe (Critical Inquiry 2021 47: S2, 58-62 available here) written presciently in 2020, a few months into the pandemic, as the source of found text for her poem. 

These are images of the artwork ‘in-progress’, we envisage that they will be replaced/ added to by an image of the final installed work in the gallery.


A moonscape of distance on all sides,

this sudden terror of contagion. Eyes

shut to war, closing in on the mortal

body. Life becomes sacrificial.

The tunnel is an ordeal. Confinement

to inertia of flesh and bones. Each

chokehold breath a subjection to flux:

oxygen in, carbon dioxide out. Deep

within its synthetic eye, a machine

heart nurturing an illusion of freedom.

Here is the question: how to survive

an aftermath of calamity? To ground

radical, root and juncture requires

an answer for human brutality. How

to live in common with earthly species

upon this conscious biosphere?

We must enter the forests, planetary

lungs, to escape our constrained fate.

Seek what eludes imagination, rupture

tomorrow’s looking glass of separation.

poem made with found text from Achille Mbembe’s The Universal Right To Breathe (2020) translated by Carolyn Shread and available here


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