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When I first saw this work in the flesh, it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. That surprised me, because it seemed such a slight, almost invisible thing. Manzoni had monumentalised the very fundamental act of breathing, annexing it as art. His charismatic egoism allowed it to stand in lieu of every breath he made (few, considering his short life).

The artist's breath has evaporated, leaving a pathetic scrap of rubber. The fact that the content isn't there any more seems both tragic and comic at the same time. The breath has departed, but has left behind a catalyst for thought, disguised as a deflated balloon.

October 2000