Seit Anfang der neunziger Jahre arbeitet Klaus Illi zum Thema „Atem“. Seine Installationen lassen den Raum durch das Zusammenspiel verschiedener Objekte atmen. Neben klanglichen Aspekten legen das zusammenhängende System und die Gemeinsamkeit des Atems soziale Gedanken nahe, lassen aber auch die eigene Atmung bewusst werden. Mit dem ersten und letzten Atemzug der endlichen Prozesse ist immer eine existentielle Dimension präsent.

Die verschiedenen Aspekte von Illis Arbeiten - Atmen, Sehen und Reinigen - lassen sich auch unter der Thematik „Zeit“ zusammenzuführen.

Zeitgenössische industrielle Elemente sind in seinen Arbeiten immer mehr oder weniger sichtbarer Bestandteil der Installationen. Diese Thematisierung der Maschine kann in die Problematisierung unseres westlichen Fortschritts- und Zivilisationsbegriffs münden, unseren zuweilen antagonistischen Alltag konterkarieren oder als Hymne an die Maschine verstanden werden.

Illis Arbeit, auch wenn sie sehr viel industrielle Technik beinhaltet, kreist um den Menschen, um Körper und Psyche, auch um Allzumenschliches, um soziale, politische, historische Zusammenhänge. In diesem Sinn sind sie aus einem figürlich-körperbezogenen Kunstverständnis und einem humanistisch-aufklärerischen Menschenbild erwachsen.

Sie lassen sich in den Diskurs von Natur und Kultur, oder erweitert in das Spannungsverhältnis von Mensch - Kunst – Natur – Technik einordnen.


Klaus Illi has been working on the theme of "breath" since the early nineties. His installations allow the space to breathe through the interplay of different objects. In addition to sound aspects, the connected system and the similarity of the breath suggest social thoughts, but also make conscious our own breathing . With the first and last breath of the finite processes, an existential dimension is always present.

The various aspects of Illis' work - breathing, seeing and cleaning - can also be brought together under the theme of "time".

Contemporary industrial elements are more or less visible components of his installations. The addressing of the machine can lead to the investigation of our Western concept of progress and civilization, counteract our sometimes antagonistic everyday life, or be understood as a hymn to the machine.

Illis' work, even if it contains a great deal of industrial technology, revolves around the human being, the body and the psyche, the all-too-human, the social, political, and historical. In this sense, they have grown out of a figurative-body-related understanding of art and a humanistic-enlightenment image of man.

They can be classified into the discourse of nature and culture, or extended into the tension between man - art - nature - technology.




All bodies, whether they are created artistically or not, relate to space in some way.

This is especially true of sculptural works, of course. Klaus Illi’s sculptures communicate with space as a function of their specific corporeality. His sculptures’ bodies represent a synthesis of interior and exterior because their materiality concentrates completely on a covering, skin or membrane that articulates a boundary between the interior space and the exterior of the sculptures.

In the pneumatic installations body, space and time are combined to form a continuum. The body as substance recedes increasingly and air becomes the central sculptural material. A dynamic system produces cyclical processes similar to nature, in which the rhythms of the apparently breathing objects evoke associations with elemental life-events. The kinetic-acoustic installation is interactive, it reacts when the viewer approaches. For a certain period the system is in repose, a stillness that occurs in cycles, and this is just as important an element of the installation as its movement. Beginning and end create an awareness of time and finiteness.

Industrial technology is an exposed and central element of the system: thus the link between technology and nature, and with it our concept of civilization and progress, is addressed as a problem. A transformation process (change of pradigm) that may well be starting to develop in Western industrial societies is suggested in the Utopia of a symbiotic relationship.

First of all, in a quite direct and spontaneous manner there is the shock of the first encounter with the rhythmically breathing objects. This cancels a merely aesthetic mode of seeing and almost imperatively introduces one’s own corporeality as an element of perception and understanding: the fact that I breathe myself and exist only as a breathing person involuntarily makes me part of the installation.

Nothing allows me to experience my isolation and involvement, the fact that I am bound to something external, more clearly than my breathing. I can be all the more frighteningly aware of the existential dimension of this contradictory link at moments when I observe myself as a breathing person only in exceptional situations, in a comparable way: I can observe my sensual perceptions, seeing, feeling, etc., i.e. I can distance them from myself and reflect about them. As a breathing person I am at the same time thrown back upon myself, and a social being. The same is true as a speaking person. Breathing, that is living silence, the disposition to speak is concealed within breathing...

Finally I experienced the installation overall as a model of a social 'body', as a kind of fate- community: none of the breath objects is like another, each is subject to its own rhythm and yet they are the same in their relationship to the space, in their dependence on space as a substance and on their "breathing" mechanism..."


Dr. Renate Wiehager, Villa Merkel Esslingen

In: "Kommunikation mit dem Raum. Zu den Sculptural Objects von Klaus Illi" ("Communication with Space. About the Sculptural Objects of Klaus Illi")

Catalogue Klaus Illi, Ostfildern 1993


"...Interior and exterior, body and space have a common rigid boundary in our thinking and speaking. At the same time experience with our own bodies and the observation of all organisms teaches us that this boundary is in constant motion.

Klaus Illi seized upon this to make the yawning gap between experience and concept in the work-group "Atem" ("Breath") and to transform Esslingen’s Galerie im Heppächer into a single breathing sculpture..."


Gabriele Hofmann

In: "Atmende Kunst - Klaus Illi im Heppächer" ("Breathing Art - Klaus Illi in the Heppächer")

Stuttgarter Zeitung, April 1995

"Exit" (Städtische Galerie Ostfildern, 1993)

Link to Video "Exit" on Youtube

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"Wellenatem", 1995, Atemscheibe mit zwei Kammern, hier beide Kammern eingesaugt, "Atem", Galerie im Heppächer

"Wellenatem" (Wave Breath), 1995, breathing disc with two chambers, here both chambers sucked in, "Breath", Gallery in the Heppächer, Esslingen

"Wellenatem", 1995, ø 40cm, Atemscheibe mit zwei Kammern, "Atem", Galerie im Heppächer, Esslingen

"Wellenatem" (Wave Breath), 1995, breathing disc with two chambers, here both chambers sucked in, "Breath", Gallery in the Heppächer, Esslingen

"Annäherung", 1995, 15 x 28 x 19,5cm, drei Zustände, Ausstellung "Atem", Galerie im Heppächer, Esslingen

"Annäherung" (Approach), 1995, 15 x 28 x 19,5cm, three positions, exhibition "Breath", Gallery in the Heppächer, Esslingen

 Ausstellung „Atem“, Museum der Elektrizität, 1999, Hamburg

"Drei kleine Atemscheiben", 1999, je ø 16cm

"Große rote Atemscheibe", 1995, ø 95cm


Exhibition „Atem“ (Breath), Museum of Electricity, 1999, Hamburg, Germany

"Three small breathing discs", 1999, each diameter 16cm

"Big red breathing disc", 1995, diameter 95cm

"Atemtrommel", 1999, ø 18cm x H 45cm, ø 16cm x H 25cm

"Atemtrommel" (Breathing Drum), 1999, diameter 18cm x H 45cm, diameter 16cm x H 25cm

Analogobjekt (atmet aufgrund des Ultraschallsensors bei Annäherung immer schneller)

Analog object (breathes faster and faster when approaching due to the ultrasonic sensor)

"Noli me tangere", 1995, 25 x 54 x 30cm, zwei Zustände / two positions, ("Atem", Galerie im Heppächer, Esslingen)

"Noli me tangere", 1995, 25 x 54 x 30cm, two states / two positions, ("Breath", Gallery in Heppächer, Esslingen)

Atemtrichterpaar ("Atem", Galerie im Heppächer, Esslingen, 1995)

Pair of breathing funnels ("Atem", Gallery in Heppächer, Esslingen, 1995)


Pair of breathing funnels

"Atem", Galerie im Heppächer, Esslingen, 1995, v.l. Große rote Atemscheibe, Nabelobjekt, Atemtrommel

"Breath", Gallery in Heppächer, Esslingen, 1995, from left Large red breathing disc, umbilical object, breathing drum

"Nabelobjekt" (einsaugend),  1995, ø 18cm x T 22cm, Silikonmembran, Sperrholz, pneumatisches Ventil, Schlauch

"Umbilical object" (suction), 1995, diameter 18cm x T 22cm, silicone membrane, plywood, pneumatic valve, hose

"Atemtrommel", 1995, eingesaugter Zustand,  ø 45cm, Silikonmembranen, Galerie im Heppächer, Esslingen

"Breathing Drum", 1995, vacuumed condition, diameter 45cm, silicone membranes, Gallery in Heppächer, Esslingen, Germany

Doppelatem, 1995,  ø 35cm, Silikonmembran, pneumatisches Ventil (Galerie im Heppächer, Esslingen, 1995)

Double breath1995, ø 35cm, silicone diaphragm, pneumatic valve (Gallery in Heppächer, Esslingen, 1995)

Atemtisch, 1995, Glasfläche, 110 x 110 cm

Breathing Table, 1995, glass panel, 110 x 110 cm


Breathing Table

"Frühlings Erwachen" 1995/96, links beblasen, rechts eingesaugt, ø 81cm, gelbe Lattexmembran

The Awakening of Spring, 1995/96, left infladed, right defladed, diameter 81cm, yellow lattex membrane 

Ausstellung "Atem.Raum" Hospitalhof Stuttgart, 1995

Große rote Atemscheibe, 1995, ø 81cm, rote Lattexmembran, pneumatisches Ventil

Exhibition "Breathing.Space" Hospitalhof Stuttgart, 1995

"Big red breathing disc", 1995, diameter 95cm,  red lattex membrane, pneumatic valve

"Atemsitze", 1998, je 76 x 41 x 41cm, Galerie im Heppächer, Esslingen

"Breathing Stools", 1998, each 76 x 41 x 41cm, Gallery in Heppächer, Esslingen


"Breathing Stools"

Ausstellung "Haben Sie sich jemals am Völkermord beteiligt?", 1996, Kunst.Raum Filderstraße, Stuttgart

"Große schwarze Atemscheibe", 1996, ø 180cm, schwarze Lattexmembran, pneumatisches Ventil, Abluftzylinder


Exhibition "Have you ever participated in the genocide?", 1996, Kunst.Raum Filderstraße, Stuttgart

"Large black breathing disc", 1996, diameter 180cm, black lattex membrane, pneumatic valve, exhaust air cylinder

Haben Sie sich jemals am Völkermord beteiligt? (Kunst.Raum, Stuttgart,1996)

Haben Sie sich jemals am Völkermord beteiligt?, 1996, Kunst.Raum Filderstraße, Stuttgart

22 schwarze Atemobjekte, 1996, ø 27cm, schwarze Lattexmembrane, pneumatisches Ventil


Have you ever participated in the genocide?, 1996, Kunst.Raum Filderstraße, Stuttgart

22 black breathing objects, 1996, diameter 27cm, black lattex membrane, pneumatic valve

Link to Video "Haben Sie sich jemals am Völkermord beteiligt?" / "Have you ever been involved in Genocide?"

After viewing the video on Youtube, return to this website by clicking the   ("one page back arrow" left of browser window).

Ausstellung "Ich atme also bin ich" (DG München, 1998)

Exhibition "I breathe so I am" (DG Munich, 1998)

Atempaar (Ich atme also bin ich, DG München)

Atempaar (Breathing Couple, I breathe so I am, DG Munich)

Ausstellung "Jedem das Seine", 1998, Kunstbunker Tumulka, München

Exhibition "Jedem das Seine" (To Each what he deserves), 1998, Art Shelter Tumulka, Munich

"Jedem das Seine", 1998, Kunstbunker Tumulka, München

"Jedem das Seine" (To Each what he deserves), 1998, Art Shelter Tumulka, Munich

"Atemwege“ (im Rahmen des Projekts „Klangschatten“, St. Severi, Erfurt, 2000)

"Atemwege" (RespiratoryTract) in the context of the project "Klangschatten" (Sound shadow), St. Severi, Erfurt, 2000)

Atemorchester (Salto Naturale, Kunst im Schloss Untergröningen, 2002)

Breathing Orchestra, Salto Naturale, Kunst im Schloss Untergröningen (Art in Untergröningen Castle), 2002

"Atemorchester", 2003, Kameralamt Waiblingen / "Breathing Orchestra", 2003, Kameralamt Waiblingen

"Atemorchester",  Detail "Rotes Paar", 2003, Kameralamt Waiblingen

"Breathing Orchestra", detail "Red Couple", 2003, Kameralamt Waiblingen

"Ruach", 2000, Ehemalige Synagoge Drensteinfurt

"Ruach", 2000, Former Synagogue of Drensteinfurt

"Kunst begreifen" (Universitätsmuseum Marburg, 1998)

Understanding/Touching Art, University Museum Marburg, 1998

"Zivilisation", E-Werk Hallen für Kunst Freiburg, 1998

Civilization, E-Werk Hallen für Kunst Freiburg, 1998

"Zivilisation" (Adelhauser Museum für Völkerkunde, Freiburg, 1998) "Atemtrommeln" in eingesaugtem Zustand

"Civilization" (Adelhauser Museum für Völkerkunde, Freiburg, 1998) "Breathing drums" in sucked state

"Zivilisation" (Adelhauser Museum für Völkerkunde, Freiburg, 1998) "Atemtrommeln" mit entspannter, flacher Membran

"Civilization" (Adelhauser Museum für Völkerkunde, Freiburg, 1998) "Breathing drums" with relaxed, flat membrane

Link zu Video "Zivilisation"

Link to video "Civilization"

After viewing the video on Youtube, return to this website by clicking the   ("one page back arrow" left of browser window).

"Kleines Atemorchester" (Ausstellung "In Bewegung", Kunstverein Reutlingen, 2005)

"Small Breathing Orchestra" (Exhibition "In Motion", Kunstverein Reutlingen, 2005)

Rote Atemscheibe ("Around Nothing", Guardini Stiftung, Berlin 2005)

Red breathing disc ("Around Nothing", Guardini Foundation, Berlin 2005)

Atemorchester (Blaue Nacht, Nürnberg, 2006)

Breathing orchestra (Blaue Nacht, Nuremberg, 2006)

"Atemorchester" 2006, Ausstellung "Approximation", Villa Merkel Esslingen

"Breathing Orchestra" 2006, exhibition "Approximation", Villa Merkel Esslingen