ART CAREER SNAKES AND LADDERS
visualises the ups and downs of an artist’s working life using the format of its titular board game. In the traditional version of Snakes and Ladders, players roll a pair of dice to move across a grid board; the first to land on the “end” square wins the game. Along the way, players climb ladders, allowing them to jump ahead, and slip on snakes, causing them to fall back. It is a game of luck, where sudden leaps of progress and dismal setbacks are both inevitable and beyond the players’ control.
Rebecca Davies re-imagines this classic board game through the lens of artistic experience. The “ladders” represent small victories - successful grant applications, artwork commissions, media coverage. The “snakes” undermine these achievements - inadequate funding, broken promises, internet trolling.
Davies’ version of the game puts the player in the precarious position of an artist. As they move across the board, it becomes increasingly clear how their ability to navigate their career is limited by the art world’s funding structures and power dynamics. The emotional impact of this helplessness is best summarized by the board’s final square, where the winner “feels empty.”
Art Career Snakes and Ladders was originally conceived by Davies in her evaluation of Artists Make Change, a research project by the Artist Council of a-n The Artist Information Company, which explored artists’ potential to effect change in broader society.
About the artist
has a deeply embedded and collaborative art practice that crosses illustration, design, performance, and event. Her work explores the role of art in making change, as a device and platform, to represent and communicate complex stories and politics.
Originally from London, Davies studied illustration at Glasgow School of Art and graduated from the RCA Communication Art & Design course in 2010. After relocating to Stoke-on-Trent, Davies established The Portland Inn Project CIC together with artist Anna Francis, working in collaboration with other artists, arts organisations and residents to improve their community and renovate an old pub building. The project advocates for people-led change, and champions the importance of art in leading that change, and in cooperation with public services.
Call & Response
Art Career Snakes and Ladders is the ninth exhibition in Call & Response, a project that activates two window galleries (The Demo Room in Aarhus, Denmark and AirSpace Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent, UK) as sites for collaborative exhibition-making.
Danish artist Aysha Amin will respond to Art Career Snakes and Ladders with a solo exhibition in The Demo Room in late 2021. The artists will then develop a duo exhibition for the window venue at AirSpace Gallery in January 2022.
Call & Response is curated by Pamela Grombacher, in collaboration with AirSpace Gallery and Galleri Image.