Activating One Billion Breaths in a Lifetime

Today’s guest blog is from artist Jill O’Bryan, who shot this video shortly after installing her work one billion breaths in a lifetime outside of the Phillips.

The sculpture is of polished chrome, at eye level, and close to the sidewalk so that as you walk by your reflection moves and so does that of the environment with relation to you. The light there is really active because it’s filtered through the foliage, so sometimes parts of the text disappear and then reappear. Your movements animate this text about corporeal motion, embodiment, and time.


Jill O’Bryan, artist

One Billion Breaths in a Lifetime

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Installing Jill O’Bryan’s one billion breaths in a lifetime (2015). All photos: Amy Wike

You might notice something new the next time you pass the corner of 21st and Q Streets NW. Installation of artist Jill O’Bryan‘s one billion breaths in a lifetime was completed earlier this week. The text of the 16-foot-wide chrome sculpture is a calculation the artist made while creating a series of drawings recording her own breaths to capture time; it takes approximately 97 years to breath one billion breaths.

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Tools of the installation trade.

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Trimming the supports to the correct height.

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Installing Jill O’Bryan’s one billion breaths in a lifetime.

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Artist Jill O’Bryan assessing placement of her work.

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(left) Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Vesela Sretenovic and artist Jill O’Bryan discuss the work as it’s installed (right) one billion breaths in a lifetime is prepped for final placement.

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The installations team makes sure the work is level before securing the piece at the corner of 21st and Q NW.

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Artist Jill O’Bryan looks on as her piece is installed.


ArtGrams: Giacometti’s Monumental Head


Via Instagrammer @jfg2003 “Nice one @giacometti.”

We’ve noticed that visitors are quite interested in Alberto Giacometti’s Monumental Head and have been snapping creative photos since it went back on view in our galleries a few months ago. In this month’s installment of ArtGrams (see the first and second installments from previous months), we’re highlighting some of our favorite shots, angles, and interactions with the sculpture.


Instagrammer @carofogg challenged Giacometti to a staring contest: “Staring contest! Quick! You and me! … win, you always doooo”


Instagrammer @plemeljr says: “Giacometti, ‘Monumental Head’ – very apt name”


Instagrammer @phia_p stages a playful pose


Via instagrammer @madfabriholic


Face-off, as outlined by Instagrammer @caemill: “1913 Kandinsky vs. 1960 Giacometti”