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In the exhibition SISTER CITIES, artist-citizens Rebecca Davies and Aysha Amin explore how urban planning impacts their local communities in Stoke-on-Trent and Aarhus, Denmark. In late 2021 the artists met online for a series of conversations covering everything from the ghettoizing power of ring roads to the potential of architecture as both a weapon and tool of social change. Through this process they conceived a bilateral campaign to challenge poor planning in their two cities, represented in AirSpace Gallery’s window with a campaign logo and call to action. This proposed campaign hints at Davies and Amin’s shared ethos as artists who champion solidarity in people-led change.

Alongside the logo is a large-scale print with drawings and texts made by the artists as they reflected on their conversations last year. The print visualises the often-invisible labour of cross-cultural exchange. It shows the effort, as Davies writes, of “building links with a sister who has undergone similar struggles.” This is the work of finding kinship that lies at the heart of town twinning.

Rebecca Davies (UK) 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. In 2016 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.

Aysha Amin (DK) is an artist, project manager, curator CAFx Aarhus Architecture Festival and co-founder of the art, culture and architecture platform Andromeda 8220, based in Gellerup. As the Aarhus correspondent writer for the international architecture magazine and platform The Funambulist, Amin engages with the politics of space and bodies. Amin’s works have been exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2018 and at DAAD Galerie during the Berlin Biennale 2020, among other places.

Sister Cities is the 12th and final exhibition in Call & Response, a series that was itself conceived as a kind of twinning project linking the window at AirSpace Gallery with a sister window in Denmark: The Demo Room at Galleri Image. For the past 18 months, Call & Response has activated these two window galleries as sites for collaborative exhibition-making.

Call & Response is curated by Pamela Grombacher, in collaboration with AirSpace Gallery and Galleri Image. The project is supported by the Danish Art Foundation, the City of Aarhus (Kulturudviklingspuljen), Arts Council England, and Stoke-on-Trent City Council.