The Daylight is a new performance work created in Herbert Bayer’s Earthworks sculpture in the summer of 2007, in honor of the 25th Anniversary Celebration. The piece is titled for the afternoon sunlight on our shoulders during our rehearsals in the Earthworks, and in reference to the practice of ‘daylighting’ creeks and streams to bring diverted water flow back to the above-ground.
In collaboration with my cast of dancers and musicians, I designed a journey for the audience in and out of the steep and curving contours of the park. We played with distance, scale and perspective, using the park and its different vantage points, and building a vocabulary of movement and sound in relationship to the unique terrain. The aim was to draw the audience into a state of greater connection to this beautiful landscape.
As a group of collaborators, we found our “way in” to the creative process by working in the site as much as possible. We experienced the land and the turf under our feet, grasping and climbing with toes and fingers, rolling over shoulders, pushing off from shins and elbows, sliding and bumping down on thighs and ribcages. Sound material was created in relation to the sounds of water and traffic. Our vision was always extra-alive, our eyes drawn to the detail of water and tree-leaves and muddy patches, and to the sky on the ever-shifting horizons as we traveled through the contours of the Earthworks.
As we built The Daylight over the course of the summer, we witnessed hundreds of park visitors walk through the site – sometimes in a chatting group with friends or family, other visitors walking in solitary reflection. Many people passed time on the benches, others rested their bodies on the steep slopes in the center of the park. I imagined that every visitor was drawn for the sense of transformation and inspiration that a walk through the Earthworks brings.
Our performance is a tribute to (and perhaps an imaginative exaggeration of) those daily journeys -- sometimes an awkward greeting between strangers, sometimes a daydream, sometimes a ridiculous flight of fancy . . . and always the water moves downhill, downhill, downhill.
The Daylight stretched over less than an hour in its final performance, but the Earthworks will remain in the care of this community for lifetimes to come.
Liz Cortez, Monica Gilliam, Toni Kline, Alex Martin, Marissa Niederhauser, Sarah Parton, Laura Prudhomme, Sarah Shira
Original percussion by Mike Bayer of Amateur Radio Operator
Alex Martin is an acclaimed Seattle choreographer, whose work has been presented by dozens of venues including On the Boards, Bumbershoot, UW Summer Arts Festival, and Velocity.
Last year, Alex Martin received international accolades for her Brown Dress Project, including interviews on the Today Show, BBC Radio in the UK, and Australian Public Radio, along with extensive local coverage. In her own words, “I made this dress and I wore it every day for a year. I made one small, personal attempt to confront consumerism by refusing to change my dress for 365 days. In this performance, I challenged myself to reject the economic system that pushes over-consumption, and the bill of goods that has been sold, especially to women, about what makes a person good, attractive and interesting. Clothes are a big part of this image, and the expectation in time, effort, and financial investment is immense.” Since this project ended on July 7, 2006, Martin has continued with a recycled clothing project, and has had several very interesting radio interviews in Australia: “climate change is hitting them really hard, so there is a huge interest in stories about down-shifting down under.”
Alex Martin at the Earthworks, 2007 (photo: Libby Lewis)