Born 1972 Melbourne, Australia. Lives and works Brisbane, Australia.

Christy Dena in collaboration with Marigold Barlett, Trevor Dikes, and Cameron Owen

Magister Ludi 2014
game, ipad, vintage school desk, chair
dimensions variable

Installation Photography Mark Ashkanasy, Courtesy RMIT Gallery

Christy Dena’s Magister Ludi critiques the ‘escape room’ phenomenon that began in gaming culture and has more recently jumped from the screen into real life escape room games being played across the world. Escape rooms are computer games in which the player must use objects and clues to escape from a virtual room. The premise of the game dates back to a 1988 text based computer game called Behind Closed Doors. Dena re-imagines an escape room game inside a vintage school desk and extends the concept of escape further into reality by putting the player into situations based on real-life experiences of abuse and financial hardship. In Latin, Magister means ‘master’ or ‘teacher’ while Ludi refers to both ‘game’ and ‘school’. Christy Dena has said the following about this work:

I have a concern, a fear that what I’m saying with the work will be misinterpreted through quick and incorrect assumptions. It is a work that is about our role in being in situations we have to escape. On the face of it, the work could be seen as saying that people who are in abusive relationships or financial hardship are in those situations because it is their fault. That isn’t what the work is about. It is about the process one goes through post-escape. (Christy Dena)

…Dena landed a role as a special effects producer, which lead her to work as a TV commercial actor and after sometime she decided to become a writer. Not a fan of constraints, Dena decided to focus expressing her own worldview unimpeded by clients. It’s no surprise that an upbringing as creative as this resulted in Dena becoming an artist…..
Ali Cromarty, Aphra Magazine