In Instrumental, 2018 you worked with airport security workers who are also singers – you found so much vulnerability that it’s almost uncomfortable to watch. What was the impetus in finding singers at the airport?
I was interested in how singing could help us listen differently in the psychically and politically noisy space of the airport. I did a couple projects with security workers in different kinds of institutions, inviting them to reflect and riff as performers on what it’s like to work in security in an airport or museum or school.
When I was a student in undergrad I worked as a gallery attendant at the Smart Museum of Art at UChicago. Working as a gallery attendant led me to work as an educator: while I was monitoring the museum with the headset I listened to the school groups that would come in, which gave me the idea to try to work with young people. That job also helped me think about the work of observation-making, which has been important for the kind of art I became interested in.
Like with a lot of projects, at the airport what became more compelling changed when I started recording with people. The act of singing is powerful. I love collaborating with singers and hope to do this more in the future. I’m grateful that I got to collaborate with the vocalist and artist Hillary Jean Young on the music for Pasture
, and to write for an opera singer in my collaboration with Jelena Jureša. Recently I have been engaging with JJJJJerome Ellis’s vocal performances and writing online, which I really love.