Snapshots from our project at Diamond Library, where students 'hawked' it stories and archives, chanting slogans they had composed.
In August, our team worked with the students of Class 8 to develop suggestions for reactivating Diamond Library one of the sites that had been selected for a community intervention by the students. The students had lots of questions and challenged us continuously- why Diamond Library, how can we possibly save it, can't the government do this instead of us? We explored all these questions through the workshop, and were even joined by Mr. Sheel who gave the students feedback on their solutions.
While developing these solutions we often questioned our role as artist-facilitators, how far should the form and content be created by us and how far should the students co-create it. As much as we wanted the students to take complete control, we realised that they too needed a framework to work within and respond to. Finally, we created and overall structure for the intervention at Diamond Library, asked them for ideas without revealing our structure to them, incorporated their ideas into our structure, and gave them the responsibility of developing the content. We have to continuously test different modes of participation and co-creation to understand how we enable people to contribute based on their strengths, interests and capacities, instead of of imagining co-creation as a uniform, equally divided process.
Some of the ideas given by the students were: Showing a trailer on Diamond Library on the road and handing out flyers, making posters, going house to house and publishing images on the internet. Look out for our next post to see how our Diamond Library Intervention shaped out!
We are a Kolkata based non-profit dedicated to promoting civic engagement through participatory art projects.