“The pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music the words make.” Truman Capote said it and now Jessica Catron, Sound Curator at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, is proving it. Her Sing Your Favorite Book performance series is just as it sounds–performers singing excerpts from their favorite books. We spoke to Jessica about books and music and the artist behind this, well, novel idea.
What motivated you to create Sing Your Favorite Book?
This is part of my summer “sound” residency at the Hammer. A big part of being artist-in-residence is bringing sound experiences that seamlessly fit into what is already in the museum–the space as well as the exhibits. So when I found out that Ed Ruscha had an exhibit up this summer at the Hammer, I knew I wanted to propose something that involved it somehow. Upon digging a bit deeper and discovering that this exhibit was based on Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, it seemed a good fit to propose a singer singing books in his gallery.
Were you a fan of Ruscha’s work?
Yes! Absolutely. I had the previous pleasure of getting involved in an art and music recontextualization of Ruscha’s “censor strip” paintings created by Nels Cline [current member of the band Wilco] and Poet/Producer David Breskin.
What can we expect from a Sing Your Favorite Book performance?
I had to think a lot about how I wanted to use voice in an art space. I decided to ask six people I know personally to sing a book of their choice a capella for about two hours. I’ve chosen a mix of both highly trained voices and singers with no training at all. Each will bring something different and unique to the room. They have quite different musical backgrounds.
And different tastes in books?
They’ll sing everything from Lolita to Das Kapital to Black Elk Speaks and The Jungle. And of course On the Road. I hope museum goers enjoy the experience!
Sing Your Favorite Book, in conjunction with Ed Ruscha’s: On the Road, runs July 22 through Oct 1 at the Los Angeles Hammer Museum. Visit their calendar for program dates and details.
Brett Barth is a freelance writer. He lives in Venice, California.
Image: Horia Varlan
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