Artworks Curatorial Statement Bios Events Podcast Credits

Jeffrey Meris

Mouth to Mouth (2020)

Mixed Media

A towering mass of tubes, fiberglass resin, and repurposed plastic bottles suspended from a steel frame, Meris’ Mouth to Mouth proposes ideas of breath, buoyancy, memory, and displacement. The bottles, found during the artist’s time living in Harlem while completing his MFA at Columbia University, create an “eternal breath” that simulates human lungs. Meris frames Mouth to Mouth in response to the capsizing of a Haitian migrant vessel in The Bahamas in February 2019, which left 29 migrants dead, 33 others missing, and 17 survivors, who were taken into police custody. Through the sculpture Meris comments on the disconnect between regional identities and explores the memory of his father, a Haitian migrant, as well as his own experience as a migrant child. The suspended objects in the sculpture function as abstracted refractions of the body as their use-value shifts from containing fluid to now containing air. In this allusion to drowning lungs filling with water, Meris highlights the corporality and profound tragedy of the lives lost in the 2019 capsize.