Adrian Williams with Voges + Partner at Volta

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Adrian Williams ALBATROSS ADO 2008 16mm celluloid silent film [large detail of video still from installation accompanied by performance]


Rarely have I been so totally engaged in a work of art as I was with Adrian Williams's "Albatross ADO" shown by Voges + Partner at the Volta fair last month. And the materials were so simple: A film was projected in softly-faded colors onto a wall in a partitioned space otherwise empty except for some unattended string instruments. The ten-minute picture was shot during a visit Williams and an artist friend made to Patagonia in 2006. In it a small house is seen being carted through the town of Ushuaia as two men perched on the roof use a broomstick to lift cables and wires, clearing the way for the structure's passage. There are a few spectators along the hilly route and two dog buddies make several appearances in the road. That's it.

Of course no small part of the work's impact was the fact that every hour on the hour the projection was accompanied by a small string ensemble of young musicians playing some very elegant atonal music in live performance.

The title of the musical piece was not provided. It may share a title with the visual element and I confess I don't know whether they exist independently. The composer was Theodor Köhler and the performers were Christoph Klein and Alma Deller on violas, Friedmar Deller on string bass.

The effect I describe might be difficult to reproduce in a collector's home (although what a wonderful thing to contemplate), or for that matter inside even a very well-endowed museum, perhaps demonstrating the artist's lack of interest in art which ends up as a commodity, sometimes even in spite of itself. A look at the gallery site and at the small pamphlet I was able to take home on this very musical visual artist's work would later confirm this impression. In addition I was pretty impressed that any gallery would present this ethereal performance inside a Midtown trade show, even if it was one of the more high-minded of the batch of fairs which arrived in New York this spring.

My Googling today taught me also that Williams may love birds as much as Barry and I do.

We stood or sat for two performances. There were a lot of young people crowded inside that space during both. Yay!


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[large detail of video still from installation]