Indonesia / Projects

A Restrospect : Kids Corner at Jogja Biennale XI (India and Indonesia)

*written in retrospect of Jogja Biennale XI and the coming Hacking Conflict

Back in 2011,  following my research residency at Cemeti Art House, Yogyakarta, Alia Swastika, the curator for Jogja Biennale XI asked me to create something for young audiences at the Biennale. I took that opportunity happily, I like creating content for children. For this project I worked with Gintani Swastika a visual artist from Yogyakarta.

The whole idea of Jogja Biennale XI was the cultural connection and shared heritage of Indonesia and India. While of course it is logical that Indonesia has so much to do with India because of its geographic proximity and its history of power. I only had an overwhelming realisation on how much related Indonesia and India really are, after doing this project. From the way we treat the land where we grow our food, to the way we decorate our homes to the way we worship gods and the divine. It is quite overwhelming how much we influence one another. Or rather, I feel how Java was much influenced by Indian continent.

Snake & Ladder ( Chute and Ladder )

Salman Rushdie‘s Midnight’s Children. The narrator describes the game as follows:

All games have morals; and the game of Snakes and Ladders captures, as no other activity can hope to do, the eternal truth that for every ladder you hope to climb, a snake is waiting just around the corner, and for every snake a ladder will compensate. But it’s more than that; no mere carrot-and-stick affair; because implicit in the game is unchanging twoness of things, the duality of up against down, good against evil; the solid rationality of ladders balances the occult sinuosities of the serpent; in the opposition of staircase and cobra we can see, metaphorically, all conceivable oppositions, Alpha against Omega, father against mother.[18]

One of the activity created as part of the Biennalle was the game snake and ladder in life size, where the children could play as themselves going through the game. The boxes were then filled with knowledge about spices, ornaments and art of India and Indonesia. Here is a view of some children playing the game interpreted by Gintani. This was located at Jogja National Museum, Yogyakarta.


Snake and Ladder boardgame is believed to originate from India. The game emphasise on the role of fate or karma. The ladders represents virtues such as generosity, faith and humility, while snakes represents vices such as greed, anger, murder and theft. It is quite interesting to realise how this game, the very game I grew up with has traces of history back centuries ago. I wish children today would know this bit of information about snake & ladder game or any game for that matter. It would do them good.


Jain version Game of Snakes & Ladders called jnana bazi or Gyan bazi, India, 19th century, Gouache on cloth

The activity itself was reviewed here.


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