One of the most memorable conversations was with the Sheel brothers of the Diamond Library, a historic publishing house and book shop in the locality. Mr. Sheel had so far been a skeptical participant, engaging the students when they visited his shop for interviews and showing up for community meetings, but always remaining wary of our intentions. After all, many artists, researchers and film makers had come before us, documented their archives and interviewed them, but their business had not benefitted in any way. However after spending a long time talking to us about our project in his shop, he invited us over again in a week to show us some of the objects he had in his archive.
These conversations reinforced the need for us to expand our understanding of our practice- conversation, and a willingness to truly listen are critical, as is the ability to make ourselves and our art useful in some way. We also understood usefulness in a new way, as Mr. Sheel said, he finally trusted us not because we helped him increase his business but because we invited them to all our events and workshops and did not disappear after a single interview. We are slowly understanding that people don't expect art to be utilitarian to be useful, but hope their identities and their presence is acknowledged and included in some way or the other.