January 10, 2012

OUT OF THE BOX Profile: Diana Thater, George Koltanowski vs. Marcel Duchamp, Paris, 1929

Posted in Exhibitions

ulmer1024116972506px72dpiDiana Thater, George Koltanowski vs. Marcel Duchamp, Paris, 1929 (Played by Ellen Simon and Cybelle Tondu), 2010. Collection of Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield.

Diana Thater, George Koltanowski vs. Marcel Duchamp, Paris, 1929 (Played by Ellen Simon and Cybelle Tondu), 2010 

Four monitors, a Blu-ray player, and a Blu-ray disk allow visitors to see a silent reenactment of a match played between the artist and chess player Marcel Duchamp and Belgian chess champion Georges Koltanowski in 1929. Diana Thater chooses to continue her theme of repetition, rhythms, and patterns and recently chess by showing two young women (Ellen Simon and Cybelle Tondu) replay this unusual match where, in 15 moves, Duchamp beats Koltanowski, a far better chess player.

Thater’s chess-related video work is no stranger to Saint Louis. Four of her installations have a permanent home at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint LouisBlitz–a six-monitor installation featuring members of the Los Angeles Chess Club playing six blitz (speed chess) games in real time—is seen on the second floor of the Club.

In 2008 after Bobby Fischer’s death, Thater also created three, single-monitor pieces representing major moments in his chess career. She filmed them at different times of the day to capture different light intensities as a metaphor of the path of his career. All are seen on the first floor of the Club.

Like Me You Are Unlike Me: The Game of the Century, Donald Byrne vs. Bobby Fischer, Rosenwald Memorial Tournament, New York City, October 17, 1956 (Played by Mick Bighamian and Nathaniel Lagemann). This game was shot in the morning. Fischer, at the age of 13 defeated Byrne, who was recognized in the 1950s and 60s as one of the top 10 chess players in the world.

No Art Without Transformation: Bobby Fischer vs. Boris Spassky, 1972 World Championship Match – Game 6 Queen’s Gambit Declinded “D59” – Reykjavik, Iceland (Played by Jennifer Acon and Mick Bighamian). This game was shot midday, which accounts for the dramatic interplay of light and shadow, highlighting the climax in Fischer’s career.

Staying is Nowhere: Bobby Fischer vs. Boris Spassky, 1992 World Championship Match – Game 1 Ruy Lopez “C95) Sarajevo, Yugoslavia (Played by Jennifer Acon and Mick Bighamian). This game was shot in the evening. This unsanctioned series, though a fascinating reprise of two former chess greats, was believed to be a far less impressive spectacle than 20 years earlier.

For more information about this work and other works seen in the exhibition, click here.

OUT OF THE BOX: Artists Play Chess is curated by Bradley Bailey and is on view until February 12, 2012.