Visas to Happiness
mock-passports, rubberstamps, coloured papers, paints, markers, winged canvas bags
and printed floor map
Interactive workshop with children during the exhibition ‘To Let the World In’, Chennai
The workshop was conceived with groups of 20 children at a time, in an outdoor classroom setting under a tree cover, on a large printed map of the world. The workshop involved specially produced mock-passports, within which children could design and issue ‘Visas to Happiness’ (metaphorically giving them the license to visit places imagined). The passports carried folded pages where children could make self-portraits that opened up into landscapes or a double character; they could mark their happiness quotient on specific days of the week in the speedometers provided or grade their seasonal highs and lows through the months of the year on graph paper. The last page of the passports ends with a ‘Recipe for Happiness’ where the kids could choose from the ingredients offered, to make their own recipe. The children were provided winged-school bags that became part of the workshop materials but also animated certain ideas about time, geography, movement, flight, freedom..The world map printed on the floor was based on the first map of Global subjective well-being or the first map of Happiness published by Adrian White from University of Leicester. Although his survey found that SWB correlated most strongly with Health, closely followed by Wealth and Access to Basic Education, we know that happiness depends on several other factors that go well beyond those stated above. Over this map children made several drawings and paintings of places imagined or real, places of departure and destination through a trail of texts, rubberstamps carrying quotations on happiness and drawings of wings, the children could plot and paste their own imaginary island on the world, charting flight routes through this visually rich and layered map of the world, connecting with other islands made and pasted by their friends.