A bench with a gold plaque on it.
Courtesy April Soetarman

This Public Audio Installation Helps Listeners Take the Long View on Life

Artist April Soetarman guides listeners through a sunset meditation in her ever-expanding audible project The End of the Day.
By Brian Libby
May 15, 2021
1 minute read

Late last year, park benches in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens—each with a clear view looking west—were stamped with small bronze plaques inscribed with a phone number and a simple instruction: “Make yourself comfortable. Call at sunset.” Those who do so are treated to The End of the Day, a meditative public audio experience created by artist April Soetarman. Her voice gently guides listeners through a 10-minute reflection about loved ones, moments of past wonder, and places where callers felt connected to others, nature, or forces bigger than themselves.

“Part of this piece was thinking about changing the time horizon,” Soetarman says of the project, which pinpoints current locations on an online map and later this year will announce additional sites in New York and the Bay Area, as well as intermittent digital performances. “The present might be terrifying or unstable, but [it’s useful to] consider the longer view on a personal scale.” Helping listeners think about previous positive achievements is her way of underscoring the value of a big-picture perspective, which can be a lifeline during a pandemic but applies to any high-anxiety moment. “It’s not to say you’re not struggling now,” Soetarman continues. “But remember that one day, you’ll be looking back on your life and on to new things instead.”