Adrian Williams, The Curve

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Adrian Williams, The Curve, 2019

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The curve is a perspective of the horizon, the end of sight. What we can’t see beyond becomes a line: an acoustic movement swells as we traverse the line, turning into darkness reliably, but nevertheless spectacularly. (Adrian Williams, 2019)

Bound to the trajectory of the sun, the sunset is an event that relies on a certain constellation of time and place. It is specifically in this context that Adrian Williams (b. 1979 in Portland, Oregon) developed her performance The Curve. On 21 June 2019, the longest day of the year, at 9:53 pm, precisely the moment the sun touches the horizon, the Preußenstadion in Münster became the setting for an acoustic intervention realized by the artist in collaboration with six musicians.1 The trombones, bass trombone, tuba and percussion were heard via the stadium speakers, at first each instrument playing by itself, and dissonantly. As the performance progressed, the musicians gradually agreed on a certain note and the sounds from speakers became increasingly harmonious. Light and sound produced an interplay, merged with their environment—until that particular moment when the sun vanishes on the horizon, slowly drawing the light along. In The Curve, the artist breaks with established performance practices and instead appropriates the event of the sunset, employing it as a protagonist.

For the brief moment of sunset during Williams’ performance, the transformation of a geographical and temporal realm space into an artwork is enacted, and this occurs without actually intervening into the landscape, but based on a conceptual framework, as an ephemeral intervention. Through the given framework, the natural spectacle is awarded with a special form of consciousness, open for one’s own thoughts and sensations. The line between the earth and the sky serves as a projection surface for daydreaming. The parameters set by the artist, which can be re-established at any time, make it possible to detach the work from the original, public performance venue in Münster’s Preußenstadion. The sound recording from the stadium can be listened to time and again, allowing the performance to be repeated at any given site. The only thing the performance is bound to is a spatio-temporal constellation, along with the instructions to listen to the recording during sunset, wherever in the world one might happen to be. It is meant to serve as a tool, with the aid of which a frame or rather a stage can be created that provides the space for subjective perception, changes the reality of a moment. Whenever the sun touches the horizon while the music is playing and a person is gazing at the sky, the piece is re-enacted. It is about experiencing the present moment, a space for observations, a phase of concentration, deceleration. It gives us the opportunity to become rooted in time and space, embedded in the ongoing transition of day and night: the sunset is followed by twilight, which in turn is followed by night, followed by dawn, sunrise and the day. The sun incessantly continues its course across the sky—ascending, descending, before the sunset once more completes the day. Each time the recording is played, a transmission of the sound takes place that merges with a different situation, thus becoming a new version of the performance. The result is an ephemeral and yet recurrent play with the landscape, with our perception, our consciousness.

Merle Radtke

1

On the trombone Alfred Holtmann, Matthias Imkamp, ​​Jochen Schüle, on the bass trombone Thomas Reifenrath, on the tuba Daniel Muresan and on the percussion Gereon Voss.