Fieldwork is Fun

I am now neck deep in fieldwork at CuriousWorks, and after almost a year and half of my own company I am thoroughly enjoying being here. I've been given the task of sifting through the company's back catalogue of photos (Flickr) and videos (YouTube/Vimeo) to create a showcase for their new website. The process is proving to useful research-wise as I am beginning to get a sense of the work they are doing in the field. The task also means I am being exposed to very interesting media, such as the following clip. It shows Curtis Taylor, director of the short film Mamu, made in partnership with CuriousWorks as part of their Stories Project, discussing his reasons for making the work. He makes the following statement at the beginning of the clip ...

"This film, Mamu, it's about right, it's about wrong. It's about the past and the future, the new and the old. It's about the Internet and Martu. It's about how we can make this technology work for us, and for us to use it the way we want to use it."

VISIT TO SARAI: One small sentence

Over a masala dosa lunch, I talked with a Sarai-based editor named Smriti. She was asking me about Indigenous Australia, and whether I knew much about the dynamics of community cultural development practice in Aboriginal communities when the project is initiated and run by someone outside of that community. I told her that it would definitely vary from project to project and from community to community but that I had worked with one Indigenous community on an art project, so I could speak from my own limited experience. I explained all the conflicting questions I had had before and during the project. What is my real motivation for doing this project? How will this project be received by the community? How will I be received by the community? Will this experience actually empower the people who participate? Do I have a right to be here? And a hundred others. I then went on to tell her that at the end of the project, I realised that there was no one answer to any of these questions.

Her response was, "Imagine that I am an Indigenous person in your country and you were working with my community. I would ask you this question: what work would you be making with us, if you were never allowed to leave? I didn't reply. She then remarked, "You don't know how to answer this question do you?" I replied, "No, I don't, but thank you".