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Duel

Wednesday, November 15, 2000–Friday, December 22, 2000

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A conceptual video survey spanning four years (1996–2000), Duel is the first retrospective of Tel Aviv-based artist Uri Tzaig’s work in the United States. Tzaig’s conceptual works in video, sculpture, photography, and graphic design alter the terms of sports and language while alluding to the desert landscape of the artist’s native Israel. Directed toward our often passive acceptance of social, political, and economic mores, Tzaig’s artworks subvert prescribed rules and traditions and encourage reconsideration of fixed positions and perceptions.

Over the five years leading up to Duel, Tzaig considered in his work the forms of game play as a way to fracture established structures. In 1996, he organized a well-publicized event for Lod, a mixed Israeli and Arab city near Tel Aviv—a soccer game played at a large stadium by the city ’s two local teams. The game, however, differed from a typical soccer match. With the intention of shifting the focus of all involved—the fans, the referees, the game announcers, and the “winning” and “losing” players—Tzaig added an additional ball. By doubling certain elements, a motif that occurs repeatedly in his work, the artist not only disrupted play of the game and the interaction of the players, but also dislocated conventional modes of viewing.

While Tzaig ’s interventions in formal, team-based games are often initially performative, time-based works, they also provide material for more complex video pieces. Duel is comprised of six video pieces, as well as photographs, poster pieces, and a game for two to four players. Also included are video works made from altered soccer and basketball games, as well as two games of Tzaig’s own creation. A newer piece, originally conceived of as a CD-ROM, proposes a circular, decentralized viewpoint. By defying the obvious, Tzaig playfully creates powerful and contemplative works that non-didactically address provocative, often political, issues.

Utilizing strict formal divisions and editing structures, works such as The Universal Square (1996), composed of footage from the soccer game, and Desert (1996) combine images and text in order to question, literally and metaphorically, the viewer’s position. In other works, such as Play (1996), Infinity (1998), and Trance (1998), Tzaig demonstrates fluid movement between various media and disciplines. For example, for Infinity, Tzaig worked with a troupe of dancers, instructing them in a continuously moving, one-ball game of his own creation. The flow of play changed rapidly, as did the size of the “court,” causing the movements of the dancers to become more conscious as they negotiated ever-shifting boundaries. By contrast, Trance was a meditative table game that invited gallery visitors to participate in Tzaig’s conceptual processes. Visitors played the game for as long as they liked while their image was presented simultaneously in a live feed on a monitor located adjacent to the playing area.

Uri Tzaig was born in Kiryat Gat, Israel. He graduated in 1990 from the School of Visual Theatre, Jerusalem where he studied directing and playwriting. His work has been featured in the 1995 Venice Biennale; the 1997 Gwangju Biennale, Korea; and Documenta X, Kassel, among others. His solo projects include the video and sound installation Tempo at De Vleeshal, Middleburg, the Netherlands, and a dance/video installation at Ateliers du FRAC, Montpellier, France, and the Migros Museum, Zurich. He has also published several works of fiction in Israel.

Duel was organized by Artists Space, New York, and was accompanied by a 96-page, color and black and white catalogue.

Related:

Israeli conceptual videomaker Uri Tzaig (born 1965) focuses on the ideas behind spectacles and games, questioning the entire artifice of these ritualized engagements. Within the last five years, his work has been featured in group exhibitions, including the 1997 Gwangju Biennale, Korea; the Jewish Museum, New York; the 1995 Venice Biennale; Manifesta 1: Rotterdam, the Netherlands; Documenta X, Kassel, Germany; and the University Art Museum, Berkeley, CA, among others. His recent solo projects include the video and sound installation Tempo at De Vleeshal, Middleburg, the Netherlands, and a dance/video installation at Ateliers du FRAC, Montpellier, France, and the Migros Museum, Zurich. Tzaig was included in the 2000 Taipei Biennale, and in an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, organized in conjunction with the 2000 Summer Olympic Games. He has published several works of fiction in Israel. He received a BA from the School of Visual Theatre in Jerusalem.

MEDIA COVERAGE

Zdanovics, Olga. “Uri Tzaig.” New Art Examiner, March 2001, p. 49.

EXHIBITION SUPPORT

Duel is supported by the School of Art and Design, College of Architecture and the Arts, the University of Illinois at Chicago; the Consulate General of Israel in Chicago; and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency. The exhibition was organized by Artists Space, New York, where it was made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York Israel Cultural Cooperation Commission, a joint venture of the State of New York and the Government of Israel; the Consulate General of Israel in New York, Office of Cultural Affairs; the New York State Council on the Arts; and through the generous contributions of Sara Meltzer Ames, Analog Digital International, Marge Goldwater, Joseph Hackney (Tel Aviv), and Lowell M. Schulman.

EXHIBITION CHECKLIST

Uri Tzaig

B/W, 1996
Video, wooden table, and glass

Crystal, 2000
Poster (unlimited edition)

Crystal, 2000
CD-ROM transferred to video

Desert, 1996
Video, 30:00 min.

Duel, 2000
Six C-prints

Infinity, 1998
Video

Pretext, 2000
Wooden table, printed posters, and mirror ball

The Universal Square, 1996
Video, 30:00 min.

Trance, 1998
Wooden table, benches, silicon, glass, rubber, and metal balls

Press Release

Uri Tzaig
Duel

Gallery 400
Chicago, IL
November 15–December 22, 2000

Artist Lecture: Tuesday, November 14, 2000, 5 pm
Opening Reception: Wednesday, November 15, 2000, 4-7 pm

Gallery 400 presents the Chicago premiere of a four-year survey of Tel Aviv-based artist Uri Tzaig ’s conceptual work that alters the terms of sports and language. Alluding to the desert landscape of his native Israel, Uri Tzaig ’s works in video, sculpture, photography, and graphic design encourage reconsideration of fixed positions and perceptions. Directed toward our often passive acceptance of social, political, and economic mores, Tzaig ’s artworks subvert prescribed rules and traditions.

Over the last five years, Tzaig has considered the forms of game play as a way to fracture established structures. In 1996, he organized a well-publicized event for Lod, a mixed Israeli and Arab city near Tel Aviv—a soccer game played at a large stadium by the city ’s two local teams. The game, however, differed from a typical soccer match. With the intention of shifting the focus of all involved—the fans, the referees, the game announcers, and the “winning” and “losing” players—Tzaig added an additional ball. By doubling certain elements, a motif that occurs repeatedly in his work, the artist not only disrupted play of the game and the interaction of the players, but also dislocated conventional modes of viewing.

While Tzaig ’s interventions in formal, team-based games are often initially performative, time-based works, they also provide material for more complex video pieces. Utilizing strict formal divisions and editing structures, works such as The Universal Square (1996) and Desert (1996) combine image and text to question, literally and metaphorically, the viewer ’s position. By defying the obvious, Tzaig playfully creates powerful and contemplative works that address provocative, often political, issues in non-didactic ways.

In other works, such as Play (1996), Infinity (1998), and Trance (1998), Tzaig demonstrates fluid movement between various media and disciplines. For example, for Infinity, Tzaig worked with a troupe of dancers, instructing them in a constantly moving one-ball game of his own creation. The flow of play changes rapidly, as does the size of the “court,” causing the movements of the dancers to become more conscious as they must negotiate ever-shifting boundaries. By contrast, Trance is a meditative game that invites gallery visitors to engage Tzaig ’s methods and processes. Visitors play the game for as long as they like while also participating in the creation of a real-time monitor-based work located adjacent to the playing area.

Building upon his work ’s challenge to fixity, Tzaig has increasingly made work that deceptively marries complexity and simplicity. For his latest work, Crystal (2000), Tzaig filmed on location at the Dead Sea, a harsh but inspiring environment. A spinning, circular work, almost a video in the shape of a ball itself, Crystal creates a new world comprised of dualities and formal echoes, many of which are drawn from the paradoxes of the desert landscape. And like the landscape in which it was created, Crystal is a work to experience, not one ready to define itself easily for the viewer. In its purposeful opacity, Tzaig proposes a new, or dual, form of viewing, one that provides a fresh, open context.

Uri Tzaig was born in Kiryat Gat, Israel. He graduated in 1990 from the School of Visual Theatre in Jerusalem. Within the last five years, his work has been featured in group exhibitions, including the 1997 Gwangju Biennale, Korea; the Jewish Museum, New York; the 1995 Venice Biennale; Manifesta 1: Rotterdam, the Netherlands; Documenta X, Kassel, Germany; and the University Art Museum, Berkeley, CA, among others. His recent solo projects include the video and sound installation Tempo at De Vleeshal, Middleburg, the Netherlands, and a dance/video installation at Ateliers du FRAC, Montpellier, France, and the Migros Museum, Zurich. Tzaig was included in the 2000 Taipei Biennale, and in an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, organized in conjunction with the 2000 Summer Olympic Games. A solo exhibition, titled Moonstruck, will open at the FRAC in Reims, France, this fall. He has published several works of fiction in Israel.

A 96-page exhibition catalogue, produced by the exhibition ’s organizers, Artists Space, New York, will be available at Gallery 400.

This exhibition is made possible by the School of Art and Design, College of Architecture and the Arts, the University of Illinois at Chicago; the Consulate General of Israel in Chicago; and a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.
Uri Tzaig: Duel was organized by Artists Space, New York, where it was made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York Israel Cultural Cooperation Commission, a joint venture of the State of New York and the Government of Israel; the Consulate General of Israel in New York, Office of Cultural Affairs; the New York State Council on the Arts; and through the generous contributions of Sara Meltzer Ames, Analog Digital International, Marge Goldwater, Joseph Hackmey (Tel Aviv), and Lowell M. Schulman. The exhibition catalogue is additionally supported by a grant from the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation.

PRINT COLLATERAL

Postcard: Duel – Opening Reception

ARTIST’S WRITING

Duel

Uri Tzaig

Once upon a time, a fight broke out between two soldiers who were on their way home, on leave, from the army after a long stint of battlefield duty. Their dirty uniforms hung heavily over their bodies, which in any case, retained little of the strength required for ordinary walking, the heat of the road’s surface scorched the wounded soles of their feet, and thirst had long since parched their throats. They forged ahead, side by side in silence, thinking of their wives who would be waiting to greet them at the doors. Wherever they directed their gaze, nothing even remotely resembling shade could be seen. Then it occurred to one that he might take advantage of the other and use him for shade. Perhaps the notion came to them both at once. Because, within moments, their quarrel turned into a brawl of the savage sort one sees only among animals—the behavior of predators, which in its human manifestation might well be thought of as madness. The blood flowed powerfully through their limbs, apart from the several drops that the ground soon absorbed. They swallowed each other’s blood, so that neither ever really had the chance to snuff out the life of the other. A lust for life burned like fire in their veins, like a kind of abandon, but also a kind of intent alertness. Images from their past raced through their heads in no special order, along with all the images they were destined to see, if I’m not mistaken. A moment of release, immediately after which they fell asleep, embracing one another.