February 1, 2020

Trans Boxing: How to Explain Belief

San Francisco Art Institute 

Drill Meditations, Nola Hanson and Nicky S. Smith, On Air Fest, Brooklyn, NY, 2018

Heavy Breathing presents, How to Explain Belief: A Trans Boxing Workshop

Part 1: performance lecture (Open to All)
Part 2: boxing workshop (The boxing workshop is exclusively for trans and gender variant people)

How to Explain Belief is the title of a 2-part event led by artist and Trans Boxing founder, Nola Hanson. Through a performance-lecture and workshop, Nola will use boxing as a framework to explore ritual, community, performance, and embodiment. By activating the gallery space as the training location, Nola constructs a hybridized site that recontextualizes the physical activities that occur within it.

Workshop participants are encouraged to attend the performance-lecture. People who are not participating in the workshop are asked to leave the space. There will be no audience for the workshop, only primary participants and the facilitator (Nola Hanson) The boxing workshop is exclusively for trans and gender variant people. Participants are asked to wear comfortable clothing/footwear that is appropriate for exercise. Boxing workshop registration form here

Influential Texts / Recommended Reading:

  • John Dewey, Art as Experience, Chapter 1: The Live Creature
  • Pablo Helguera, Education for Socially Engaged Art, Chapter 2: Community
  • Gordon Hall, Extremely Precise Objects of Ambiguous Use
  • Allan Kaprow, Performing Life (1979) Right Living (1987)
  • Adrian Piper, Notes on Funk, I-II//1985/83

Trans Boxing Class, Overthrow Boxing Club, New York, NY. 2019. Photo by: Ada Jane McNulty


San Francisco Art Institute
Diego Rivera Gallery
800 Chestnut Street, San Francisco

2:00-3:00 Performance Lecture (Open to All)
3:00-4:00 Boxing Workshop (Exclusively for trans and gender variant people)

Wheelchair accessible. Ramp located at Chestnut Street entrance.


Nola Hanson (b. 1991, Milwaukee, Wisconsin) is a trans artist whose practice centers the role of embodiment in contemporary social systems. Nola received their BFA in Painting and Art Criticism from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2014. They started boxing at the New Bed Stuy Boxing Center, a community-run boxing gym in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn in 2015. In 2017 they founded Trans Boxing, an experimental boxing club that prioritizes participants of various identities who have limited access to boxing training.

Nola's practice includes independent work as well as collaborative socially engaged projects, and has been shown in New York, Chicago, Portland, and Milwaukee. Nola is currently an MFA candidate in the Art and Social Practice program at Portland State University.

January 20, 2020

Jean-Thomas Tremblay: Breath/Measure/Commons

Reuters/Getty Images

Heavy Breathing A/V presents Breath/Measure/Commons by Jean-Thomas Tremblay:

I am writing a book on aesthetic responses to a contemporary crisis in breathing. This social, political, and environmental crisis is typified by the increased pollution, weaponization, and monetization of air and breath, the consequences of which are unevenly distributed. Breath/Measure/Commons is an experiment that transposes the questions of exemplarity and generalizability I have been considering into the form of the meditation. Reading about other people’s breathing makes me aware of mine—but my breathing tells me very little about other people’s experiences. This is what I try to convey in a meditation that centers engagements with breathing within Black and Indigenous Studies: the limits of what breathing enables us to measure, or, put differently, how breathing registers the unevenness of the atmospheres we inhabit.

The track includes instructions for a creative exercise. Listen on your own or with others, indoor or outdoor. As long as there is an environment to be sensed.

Works Cited and Consulted:

  • Crawley, Ashon. Blackpentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility. New York: Fordham University Press, 2016.
  • Gumbs, Alexis Pauline. “About.” Black Feminist Breathing Chorus, 2014.
  • Parikka, Jussi. “The Sensed Smog: Smart Ubiquitous Cities and the Sensorial Body.” The Fibreculture Journal 29 (2017).
  • Reagon, Bernice Johnson. “Coalition Politics: Turning the Century.” In Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology, edited by Barbara Smith, 356–368. New York: Kitchen Table Press, 1983.
  • Richmond, Scott. Cinema’s Bodily Illusions: Flying, Floating, and Hallucinating. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016.
  • Sharpe, Christina. In the Wake: On Blackness and Being. Durham: Duke University Press, 2016.
  • Simmons, Kristen. “Settler Atmospherics.” Cultural Anthropology, November 20, 2017.
  • Taylor, Dorceta E. Toxic Communities: Environmental Racism, Industrial Pollution, and Residential Mobility. New York: New York University Press, 2014.
  • Tremblay, Jean-Thomas. “Aesthetic Self-Medication: Bob Flanagan and Sheree Rose’s Structures of Breathing.” Women & Performance 28, no. 3 (2018): 221–238.
  • Tremblay, Jean-Thomas. “Feminist Breathing.” differences 30, no. 3 (2019): 92–117.


Jean-Thomas Tremblay is an assistant professor of English at New Mexico State University. Their scholarship in the environmental and medical humanities, literary and cultural studies, and feminist, queer, and trans studies, has been published in differences, Women and Performance, Criticism, Post45, New Review of Film and Television Studies, and Critical Inquiry. Their public writing has appeared in such venues as the Los Angeles Review of Books, Public Books, The Rambling, Full Stop, Arcade, Make Magazine, and Chicago Review.

Jean-Thomas' monograph in progress, Breathing Aesthetics, argues that breathing has emerged, since the 1970s, as a medium that configures embodiment and experience as effects of biopolitical and necropolitical forces. Within a crisis in the reproduction of life marked by the air's pollution, weaponization, and monetization, articulations of individual and collective survival and persistence must grapple with the management and dispersal of the risks of breath. Breathing Aesthetics surveys minoritarian contexts where the aestheticization of breathing generates medium-specific and historically, culturally, and environmentally situated tactics and strategies for living under precarity. Jean-Thomas is also editing, with Drew Strombeck, the collection Avant-Gardes in Crisis: Art and Politics in the Long 1970s.

More information on past and upcoming projects is available at

January 11, 2019 

Liza Sylvestre and Christopher Robert Jones: Flashlight Project

Land and Sea. Oakland, CA 

Heavy Breathing presents Flashlight Project by Liza Sylvestre and Christopher Robert Jones. Flashlight Project addresses a need to reconfigure conversation models to consider individuals with differing levels of sensory ability. Join us in a ‘conversation’ that is accessed through a gesture of visibility and identification. We are interested in how exploring the intersection of learned systems of body and language disrupts systems of normativity. 

We want participants to come away from our workshop questioning normative modes of communication design and want them to pay specific attention to the demarcation between the private and social body, one that is predicated upon compulsory able-bodiedness. We desire to focus on how subjectivities are shaped by systems of meaning and access and how they, in turn, can be used to create space for others.


January 11, 2019 6:00-7:00pm
Doors at 5:30pm

Land and Sea
5428 San Pablo Ave, Oakland 

FREE + OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Wheelchair accessible.  

Suggested Readings: 
Our practices are based on an understanding of and belief in Crip Theory and intersectional thinking. Although it is not necessary to have read Robert McMruer’s Crip Theory before attending our workshop, we certainly hope you read it at some point.


Liza Sylvestre is the co-founder of Creating Language Through Arts, an educational arts residency that focuses on using art as a means of communication when there are language barriers present due to hearing loss. In 2014 she was awarded both and Artists Initiative and Arts Learning grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Recently she has been the recipient of a VSA Jerome Emerging Artists Grant, a fellowship through Art(ists) on the Verge and an Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work has been shown nationally at venues including The Plains Art Museum, the Weisman Art Museum, Roots and Culture, Lease Agreement Gallery, the Minnesota Museum of American Art, and Soo VAC. Her work has been written about in Art in America, Mousse Magazine, SciArt Magazine and the Weisman Art Museum's Incubator Web Platform. Most recently Sylvestre has served as the artist in residence at the Center for Applied Translational Sensory Science and the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, MN. In February 2019 the Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing (MNCDHH) awarded Sylvestre a Citizen Advocate Award for her exemplary work in advocating for and with deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing Minnesotans. During the 2019/20 academic year Sylvestre is a Kate Neal Kinley fellow completing work at Gallery 400 and the University of Chicago, and a lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 

Christopher Robert Jones is an interdisciplinary artist based in Illinois. Their research is centered around the ‘failure’ or ‘malfunctioning’ of the body and how those experiences are situated at points of intersection between queer and crip discourses. Using sculpture, installation, and performance strategies, their work aims to create ruptures in the layers of cultural/political/historical sediment through which compulsory normativity and compulsory ablebodiedness are disseminated. Christopher received B.A.s in Art Studio and Technocultural studies from UC Davis and is currently a M.F.A. candidate at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.


January 6, 2019 

Layton Lachman + Samuel Hertz: The more a path is used, the more a path is used

Heavy Breathing A/V presents The more a path is used, the more a path is used. Layton Lachman and Samuel Hertz draw from their long-standing artistic collaboration--as well as Lachman’s practice of Open Source Forms--in order to offer a guided movement experience. This workshop gives a taste of an Open Source Forms class, which is usually facilitated in a group setting, and is set to a soundscape composed by Hertz.

Open Source Forms, developed by Stephanie Skura, is deeply rooted in & fluidly expanded from Skinner Releasing Technique, utilizing images and hands on exercises to instigate a letting go into new modes of moving. The work is based in improvisation and a journeying together through different energetic states, with the desire to access different awarenesses in ourselves. We will traverse personally and collectively, sometimes diving headlong into a concept, while other times listening and looking at it obliquely. As well as moving, we will spend time writing and reflecting on our experiences.

Some things to note:

The session is experiential, meaning that whatever sensation, imagination, feeling, emotion...whatever comes up during the next hour is a valid experience! There is no one way in which to experience this session. It need not look a certain way.

Make sure that you have some space to move around. Also make sure that you feel comfortable in whatever space you are in (a closed door in often helpful) because we might find ourselves in some states of consciousness that are deep and possibly vulnerable.

This session is best listened to through a sound system to prevent obstructions to movement, however, is it also possible to listen to it on headphones.

Let things take as long as they need. Your timing might be different than the pace that we suggest, however, feel free to let your own interest and internal timing guide how long you stay in something. You can always pause if you need more time.

At the end of the session I will say, “now we can move into writing.” It’s nice to have your notebook and pen ready. This writing period is to digest our experience. It can be written in stream of consciousness, it can be a drawing, or any kind of marks on the page that help us process our experience. Give 5-10 minutes to this processes of reflection.

Additional Reading & Listening:

(using the WayBack Machine for which is located in Oakland)

Pauline Oliveros. "Auralizing in the Sonosphere: A Vocabulary for Inner Sound and Sounding" in Journal of Visual Culture 10(2). 2011. pp. 162-168.

Sara Ahmed. "What's the Use." Duke University Press. 2019 


Samuel Hertz is a Berlin-based sound artist and researcher working at intersections of Earth-based sound, sonic sensualities, and climate change. Alongside his performances exists a strong research component based in Anthropocene studies, encompassing relationships between sound, geography, climate, and social ecologies working with institutions such as HKW/Max Planck Institute (DE), RHUL Centre for GeoHumanities (UK), and the University of Leeds (UK).

After working in the San Francisco Bay Area for seven years, Layton Lachman is now emerging as a Berlin-based artist. They are working in dance performance and continue to be deeply invested in the politics of alternative modes of artistic collaboration, curation, and social organizing. Their research is often in the realm of somatics and finding methods of utilizing these experiential practices in the creation of immersive worlds of sensorial complexity and perceptual disorientation.

December 14, 2019 

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto: In the Name of the Zombie 

CTRL+SHFT, Oakland

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as Faluda Islam. Projections by Anum Awan in Tomorrow We Inherit the Earth: The Queer Intifada. CounterPulse, 2019. Photo by Robbie Sweenie

Heavy Breathing presents “In the Name of the Zombie: Muslim Zombies and the Radical Politics of the Undead.” This participatory lecture looks into the history of the zombie, its appropriations by global cinema, and its radical potential as a figure of liberation for populations living under constant assault; particularly  those living in the Muslim world today. The lecture will be followed by zombie movement and vocal scores, and a final meditation on grief.

Photo: Jeff Roy


December 14, 2019 ~ 7:00pm - 9:00pm
Doors at 6:30

1430 34th St, Oakland

Wheelchair accessible and ADA bathrooms available.

Suggested Readings:
The Zombie Manifesto, Sarah Juliet Lauro and Karen Embry
Necropolitics, Achilles Mbebe

Things to Wear:
Comfy clothes, and shoes you can leave at the door


Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (b. Damascus, 1990) is a visual artist, performer and curator.  Bhutto’s work explores complex histories of colonialism that are resurrected by contemporary international politics. In the process he unpacks the intersections of queerness and Islam through a multi-media practice.  He has shown in galleries, museums and theaters globally, as well as spoken extensively on the intersections of faith, radical thought and futurity.

Performance by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as Faluda Islam the zombie, video projections by Anum Awan in 'Tomorrow We Inherit the Earth_ The Queer Intifada AkA Alif is For Intifada' June 20-22 2019, CounterPulse Theater, SF, photo credit Robbie Sweenie

︎ ︎ ︎

Heavy Breathing ︎ 2018

Critical thinking often feels heady, abstract, and divorced from the body. How do conversations change when we are moving our bodies and out of breath? What new modes of thinking become possible?