When Juliusz Zenkner left Poland to head for Delhi in September, he carried with him stories of Syrian refugees.“They are being discussed everywhere in Europe. Some are offering them help, others are turning them down, I’m not sure what my stance is, though I think they should be given the support they need,” says the game developer. Over the last few weeks, he has put in all the information he has gathered on them in a digital game that he is sharing as part of the Khoj residency “Of Games-III”. The participants are journalists who head from one camp to the other, interacting with the refugees on screen. Their attitude determines how the interaction goes. “If you are polite to the refugees they will let their hearts out, or else you’ll head back with no information for your news article,” adds Zenkner.
He is one of the eight participants at the residency that, in its third year, focuses on “community”, games that deal with politics, society and culture. If Chinmayee Samant has attempted to decode conversations between the government and the common man, Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra have based their board game on an ancient Indian game called Ganjifa; originally played with a set of 120 cards.
Sanket Jadia and Mario D’Souza have the participants take a journey across Kashmir, zooming on different sectors, and bringing out stories from the heartland — of Robert Thorp, born to a Kashmiri mother and British army officer, and a shrine in Srinagar where Jesus is rumoured to have spent some years, among others. The gamers can add their own stories, which are being archived by the duo.
Heading to the terrace of the Khoj premises in Khirkee could be a bit spooky, for this is where Krishnarjun Bhattacharya has groups of participants interacting with the ghost of an old lady — they all want her property and claim to know her better than the others. The lawyer needs to be convinced and the winner will be one who deciphers the cue cards planted by Bhattacharya in different makeshift rooms on his set. Art here is not just interactive, but also investigative.
The exhibition at Khoj Studios, S-17, Khirkee Extension, is on till October 17. Contact: 65655873