Notes five days on

We experienced a SONIC CONDUIT from critical magic to foreign bodies. It was a ballet performed by a man who was investigating us within hours of arriving in Sicily, in Trapani. He saw us from across the street, with a long pole he was tapping the ground. He crossed the street to sit at a bench adjacent from us. Still tapping this long pole. We looked at him periodically and said hello. He did not respond, but kept tapping. Then he moved again, this time to the bench directly in front of us, looking head on, still tapping this long wooden pole. We looked at him, but he refused to make eye contact when we did. I knew this was a our entry point and our beginning, tying us from one project to the next. Eventually he wandered on.

I think a lot about circles of accessibility, especially as it relates to privilege. We are traveling by hitch hiking and bus, sometimes staying in people’s homes, sometimes, on the ground. The other night, we wandered until 2 or 3 in the morning, searching for a suitable place, to put out sleeping bags. We passed a lot of sex workers working in one area of the city near the train station. I feel sameness and difference. I feel identification and disassociation related to skin color, choice, circumstance. If I could work side by side with them I would; I don’t feel like that’s an invisible line I can cross, not exactly. I waffle between: I should see more clients when I get home to fund this project and: I should apply for more grants when I get home to fund this project. Now we found a cheap hostel for some nights, but it makes me deeply uncomfortable, and I struggle with this feeling. Even though it offers us a good nights rest and a place to work, it separates me from a sense of instability that migrants are dealing with on a daily basis. I too am a migrant, but with different circumstance. And yet—the boys we met—they do have a home, at least for now. Why should I not. Still, I wrestle uncomfortably with this feeling. I feel that when I sit on the ground, when I travel by foot, when I sleep on the ground, and when I continue to live with very little, picking up food where I can and scavenging what resources I can, that I am closer to a circle of accessibility that feels right. When I, on the contrary, make choices to take advantage of privileged safety nets, I feel deeply uncomfortable and feel pulled away from the focus of what I am really here to do.

We face questions about recording, how best to use our equipment and when to pull out the “good” recording equipment and when simply to use the zoom. We have met someone who is a singer, who comes from a whole family of musicians in Gambia. He even has a DVD of his family singing and playing the Kora. Because he could not bring a Kora with him by boat, we want to unite in a recording him singing with another person playing Kora. His cousin in Milan has one. We want to visit him and sew the familial musical pieces together. Adrienne and I agree that we must pay close attention to how we use the music that we gather in this project. We want to be mindful of how we ask people to collaborate. That they feel respected as collaborators; not used and discarded. We want to make sure that they remain a through line from now until the very end of this process.  I think a lot about how the recording process changes (or in the case thus far?) does not change the interview. The young men we have spoken with so far seem very comfortable being recorded, both their photograph and their story. I wonder if this is because of their age. They all have Facebook, public profiles. This is fascinating to me. 10, 15 years ago, when I was working at EBSC in California, there were young men from Guatemala, family members long separated that were united in our office. I remember these moments and they still bring chills to my arms. They did not have means of communication. Many had never used computers before, let alone small hand held computers. Now these migrants we meet today speak of being able to communicate with loved ones via Facebook and Skype. They do not seem to flinch at the presence of “technological recording devices”. Why should they? This is 2015. They are generation Z. This in fact is a different situation now and I am the one who remembers time before the digital age. My question is merely, does presenting them publicly, as I would any friend I meet in this day, threaten their security in any way. I have a responsibility in the way we share their stories.