Eduardo Navarro: xyz (Hero image)

12th Sharjah Biennial
Sharjah, UAE
Curated by Eungie Joo
Sharjah Art Foundation Public Collection

Part of Sharjah Biennial 12, Artist Eduardo Navarro’s work XYZ is an activity for children that aims to rethink the mechanical and analytical skills used to win a game. The game sessions took place in Al Hamdan Bin Mousa Square in SAF Art Spaces, until May 30th, 2015.

Instead of imposing rules, the artist has worked with children from different schools and clubs including Al-Amal School for Deaf Students, Delhi Private School, Sharjah Girl Guides and Al Hemam Training Centre in Sharjah on colouring and meditation activities to develop the framework, which resulted in a game that is most appropriately played with no adults. Eduardo Navarro explained: ‘I think education is not about preparing children to function in the adult world, it’s about providing tools and experiences that challenge children to have a deeper connection with themselves. Working with so many children from different schools was a beautiful way of knowing Sharjah. I hope XYZ was an exciting new way of playing for them.’

In XYZ, players roll an enormous ball in a gridded blue court. The ball’s movement is determined by non-visual stimuli and guidance. The ball reveals its location by scent, sound or touch, represented by the three different ‘jackets’ it wears. Each game is predetermined based on the sensory jacket used. Meanwhile, players use applause to signal their locations on the court to each other. With its experiential, sensorial emphasis, XYZ accentuates on children’s mutual trust, concentration and collaboration.

The game takes an original approach to exploring children’s talents, as they have to use their imagination. Al–Amal School for Deaf Students and Delhi Private School students both participated in the research process with Eduardo Navarro as well as many game sessions. The children responded very positively to the project as they were putting their thoughts into action and progressively making the game their own. Al Amal School for Deaf Students art teacher Mohammed Abu Zahra, believes that ‘This kind of workshop is a bridge for communication between the Sharjah Art Foundation and children, as it gives them an opportunity to learn in a fun, different and more practical method’. Delhi Private School, Counselor and Environment Coordinator Asha Mathew agrees that ‘Students appreciated the new and unique experience of having their eyes closed and attempting to draw, colour, paint and play with the sensory ball. They learned to use their five senses better.’

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