Apnea is a term for suspension of external breathing.
During apnea, there is no movement of the muscles
of inhalation and the volume of the lungs shrink
because of the water pressure. There is no flow of
gas between the lungs and the environment.
Pneima is an ongoing action driven by a group of free divers that temporarily inhabit, in breath suspension, the deep waters. The divers are the bridge between the underwater and the land, the channel between two worlds separated by biological restrictions. These neoprene beings are the only humans able to inhabit this space for a sustained and long period of time.
The project started in Riaño, León. This village in Picos de Europa is the remains of the old village now sunk under the waters of the reservoir. The walls of the dam were built in the times of dictatorship, but they were not closed until 1987 in a very tragic and violent action. Riaño and other eight very old villages were sunk and more than 4000 people displaced. The memories of most villagers are under the dark water of the reservoir, sunken beneath 650 hectares of water. The research process of this stage of No man’s Land Project took us to explore the memory underwater. The process was long and complex in Riaño. Following several conversations we asked the Riañeses (people of Riaño) what they would like to recover from underwater back from their villages. Almost unanimously they claimed for the pure water from their fountains. The fountain was still clean water flowing under the muddy waters of the reservoir. The free divers Marcelino Gonzalez and Javier Garcia Martínez, trained at Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León every week to collect water under water, the clean water of their fountain down the soiled waters. They became the eyes of the community underwater reclaiming the memories of its residents and their sense of belonging.
Air is the oldest means of communication. Long before the appearance of humans into the earth’s ecosystems, it served as a vast pool jammed with chemical signals, which only recently has started gaining scientific recognition. The turbulent rush of air in and out our body is ecstatic as it allows us to participate in something bigger than ourselves – in other turbulent flows.