Ekene Ijeoma's Breathing Pavilion

DBP is excited to collaborate with Van Alen institute to present Brooklyn-based artist Ekene Ijeoma’s first public sculpture in NYC. Using both computational design and conceptual art strategies, Ijeoma reframes social issues to poetically uncover the truths and injustices and are obscured through various systems of oppression.

Breathing Pavilion by Ekene Ijeoma creates a space for communal meditation and reprieve. The first public art installation at 300 Ashland welcomes community members to enter the space and engage in communal meditation.

Rendering by Ekene Ijeoma

Created in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and systemic racial injustice in the United States, Breathing Pavilion offers sanctuary at a time of intense hardship and loss, suggests a paradigm shift towards communion and meditative stillness, and creates an accessible space of reprieve when the act of breathing itself is under siege.

“Between the ongoing struggles in the racial and political movements in the United States and the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be difficult to find the time and space to breathe deeply and rest well. I held my breath for most of last year, waiting to exhale into a new administration and new vaccines. It will still take some time before we see large-scale change. Until then, in these next few weeks, this pavilion is here to invite the public to breathe into the change within each of us, in sync with one another.” - Ekene Ijeoma

DATES: March 16th-May 8th, 2021

LOCATION: The Plaza at 300 Ashland

PROGRAMMING: On Tuesday evenings at 7pm, Breathing Pavilion will host a series of site-specific musical performances. View more programming here.

3/23: Kalia Vandever, Trombone (rain date 3/26)
3/30: Melanie Charles, Flute (rain date 4/2)
4/6: Joel Ross, Vibraphones (rain date 4/9)
4/13: Baba Don Babatunde, Percussion (rain date 4/16)
4/20: Neil Clarke, Percussion (rain date 4/23)
4/27: Lakecia Benjamin, Saxophone (rain date 4/30)
5/4: Participatory Drum Circle led by Mr. Fitz of the Brooklyn Music School (rain date 5/7)
Sat 5/8: Keyon Harrold, Trumpet (rain date Sun 5/9)

Ekene Ijeoma’s Breathing Pavilion (2021). Photos by Kris Graves


Breathing Pavilion is designed to be experienced in accordance with COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines. Signage encourages viewers to wear masks and maintain six feet of distance to ensure everyone can safely enjoy the work.

The Plaza at 300 Ashland is conveniently situated in the heart of the Brooklyn Cultural District, at the intersection of Lafayette Ave and Flatbush Ave. The plaza is easily accessible – located only a short walk from the B, Q, 2/3 and 4/5 subway lines at Atlantic Barclays, the G train at Fulton St, and the C train at Lafayette Av, as well as a number of bus stops. There is also paid parking along the surrounding streets.

Tag us online using the #BreathingPavilion and #DowntownBrooklyn hashtags!

@downtownbrooklyn | @ekeneijeoma@van_alen

Melanie Charles interacting with Breathing Pavilion. Photos by Argenis Apolinario.


Ekene Ijeoma is an artist, professor of Media Arts and Science at MIT, and founder/director of the Poetic Justice group at MIT Media Lab. Through both his studio and lab at MIT, Ijeoma researches social inequality across multiple fields including social science to develop artworks in sound, video, multimedia, sculpture and installation. Ijeoma’s work has been commissioned and presented by art institutions including Contemporary Art Museum of Houston, The Kennedy Center, Museum of the City of New York, Neuberger Museum of Art, and Annenberg Space for Photography. Ijeoma’s practice has also been supported by grants, fellowships and residencies including Creative Capital, Map Fund, Wave Farm, The Kennedy Center, and New York Foundation for the Arts.


The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership is a not-for-profit local development corporation that serves as the primary champion for Downtown Brooklyn as a world-class business, cultural, educational, residential, and retail destination. Managing three Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) that cover Downtown Brooklyn - the MetroTech BID, Fulton Mall Improvement Association, and Court-Livingston-Schermerhorn BID - the Partnership’s diverse activities include attracting new businesses and improving the environment for existing companies, facilitating the construction of public spaces and streetscapes that promote an active and cohesive community, supporting and promoting Downtown Brooklyn’s cultural assets, and encouraging a sense of place and an engaged civic community.


Van Alen Institute helps create equitable cities through inclusive design. In an equitable city, every person is civically engaged, regardless of income or personal circumstances. To achieve that goal, inclusive design supports a community-driven public realm.

For more than 125 years, our purposeful community engagement, convening capacity, and global interdisciplinary network have produced profound transformations in the public realm of New York City and beyond. With a core belief in an interdisciplinary approach to design, the Van Alen team has backgrounds in architecture, urban planning, public health, civic advocacy, community engagement, and arts and culture.


The Plaza at 300 Ashland sits at the heart of the Brooklyn Cultural District, adjacent to the brownstone Brooklyn neighborhoods of Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, and Park Slope. DBP has partnered with premier Brooklyn arts organizations such as BAM, BRIC, Brooklyn Public Library, Mark Morris Dance Group, MoCADA, 651 Arts, and Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA) to offer free, high-quality programming for everyone. Programming at The Plaza at 300 Ashland is made possible by support from Two Trees Management Co.