Dan Witz’s “Breathing Room” Installs Meditating Figures in 10 London Phone Booths

“It was an insane install,” says Dan Witz of his London phone booth, “probably one of the most challenging of my career.”

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Dan Witz. “Breathing Room” London, July 2016. (photo © Dan Witz)

The New York Street Artist who began working anonymously putting art on the streets in the late 1970s is sometimes given to hyperbole, but when you see the map of the ground he covered in the city in search of the right homes for his “Breathing Room” guerilla installations, you think he may be hewing to the truth. He’s also got the timing and delivery of a Catskills comedian when describing his efforts to put up these new people deep inside a spiritual practice.

“All 10 of the pieces are up and scattered nicely around greater London,” he says wide-eyed and nearly out of breath as if he had just finished running an interventionist art marathon. “Greater is the word. That place is huge. Vast. Endless. And it seems like I’ve seen every scruffy inch of it now.”

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Dan Witz. “Breathing Room” London, July 2016. (photo © Dan Witz)

“Take my wife, please!” He didn’t actually say that one. Besides, Dan’s wife Tiffaney is the linchpin who helped him realize this project, putting together the video and Kickstarter page that raised money to bring him from New York to glue these paintings to the iconic red phone booths.

As it turns out, these quietly meditating illusionistic figures were measured and created for a size of booth that has fallen into disuse – a fact that he may have liked to know before painted these in his Brooklyn studio. There are two sizes of phone booths in London, Dan tells us; the K2 and the K6.

“The one that I measured for, the K2, is the older, rare and widely dispersed one. Apparently there are only a couple of hundred of them in use at remote and largely undisclosed locations. But, through the deep research skills of Mark Clack of Wood Street Walls  and my ever intrepid wife Tiffaney, we were able to locate enough K2’s for me to put my paintings on.”

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Dan Witz. “Breathing Room” London, July 2016. (photo © Dan Witz)

Witz’s newest work is meant as a response to the terrorist attacks in many cities that have hurt many people psychologically and stirred an atmosphere of fear – now he hopes to encourage a place for people to create “breathing room” for reflection. He has dealt directly with darker issues before, particularly a well-documented street art campaign a couple of years ago in Frankfurt, Germany, of figures caught just behind dark windows and metal grates. It is a guerrilla style he has honed over years to subtly draw attention and unnerve a passerby, perhaps into action.

For that campaign a nearby QR code could be scanned and followed to the Amnesty International campaign in support of political prisoners. Here he hopes to spark individual acts of hope, with these serene images radiating an optimism and focus on more peaceful matters.

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Dan Witz. “Breathing Room” London, July 2016. (photo © Dan Witz)

Mr. Witz says that the whole experience tracking down and installing in London phonebooths was challenging, and fun and rewarding as well. “Fortunately I had the foresight to rent a motorcycle and I figured out how to mount my phone with Google maps on the handlebars,” he says.

“I’m not sure how I would have done any of this without that. But don’t even get me started on how crazy it was to drive on the left side of the road for the first time in my life,” then adds somewhat conspiratorially, “Don’t tell Tiffaney but there were some close calls.”

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Dan Witz. “Breathing Room” London, July 2016. (photo © Dan Witz)

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Dan Witz. “Breathing Room” London, July 2016. (photo © Dan Witz)

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Dan Witz. “Breathing Room” London, July 2016. (photo © Dan Witz)

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Dan Witz. “Breathing Room” London, July 2016. (photo © Dan Witz)

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Dan Witz. “Breathing Room” London, July 2016. (photo © Dan Witz)

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Dan Witz. “Breathing Room” London, July 2016. (photo © Dan Witz)

 

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