Inhale, exhale

Sam Buxton (English, born 1972)2010

The Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago, United States

London-based Sam Buxton is interested in exploring the possibilities of new technologies and materials in the service of works that reinterpret everyday objects and environments, emphasizing their component parts for renewed scrutiny. For the past ten years, Buxton has created an array of miniature environments and landscapes made from acid-etched or chemically milled steel that depict familiar environments drawn from everyday life: health-club gyms, airport waiting lounges, public plazas, outdoor cafés, and open-plan office spaces. Buxton is interest in exploring the phenomenological aspects of architecture and design and purposefully depicts the types of homogeneous environments that define our quotidian existence as a way to create work that is accessible to a broad audience and will therefore prompt investigation. For Buxton, the city is a networked data-scape in which we plug in and out depending on the activities we are assuming at any one time. The most coherent manifestation of his ideas is demonstrated in a series of recent works that play out at the scale of furniture or product design.
“Inhale, exhale” (2010) features a myriad of staircases grouped together in a block that is approximately 5 feet high and three-and-a-half feet in width. This piece is unsettling in its failure to provide the sense of escape that one expects from such stairs. Like much of Buxton’s work, the piece is meant to be read metaphorically as a multilayered narrative relating to daily life. Buxton has offered this explanation of “Inhale, exhale”: “Every stair begins at the base and emerges onto the open surface, the entirety is therefore interconnected. The image of the staircase relates predominantly to the mind, in this case a state of mind, but it also references data, processing, and repetition. I wanted to juxtapose familiarity and presumed purpose with a claustrophobic density, a structure that can only be briefly escaped, that ultimately only leads to an inevitable re-immersion.” By creating a strong vocabulary of forms that are both familiar and unfamiliar, Buxton prompts viewers to contemplate their own relationships with the spaces and objects


  • Title: Inhale, exhale
  • Creator: Sam Buxton (English, born 1972)
  • Creator Lifespan: 1972
  • Creator Nationality: English
  • Creator Gender: male
  • Creator Birth Place: England
  • Date Created: 2010
  • Type: Mixed Media
  • External Link: The Art Institute of Chicago
  • Media: Stainless steel and glass, 1/4 limited edition
  • Credit Line: Funds provided by the Architecture & Design Society, 2010.415, © 2010 Sam Buxton
  • Artist: Sam Buxton (English, born 1972)

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