top of page

The Chess Paradox

Daniel Abraham & Hana Cicevic

In chess, as a purely intellectual game, where randomness is excluded, - for someone to play against himself is absurd… It is as paradoxical, as attempting to jump over his own shadow.” -Stefan Zweig, quote from Chess Story
The Chess Paradox is a spatial installation that occupies three street fragments along Union Square in New York City. Union Square Park is acknowledged as a place of pause from the hectic lifestyle of a metropolis, known for chess matches that frequently occur between visitors and local players.
The initial idea was developed through a series of diagrams that aim to transform a game of chess into a three-dimensional spatial experience. The authors of the installation played a game of chess and developed an initial set of rules that proscribe how spaces of the chess board are articulated depending on the game progression. The ideas from this initial experiment were then scaled up and transformed into spatial configurations that are adapted to the forms and needs of the chosen site in a hectic metropolis area.
This installation is a series of spatial experiences through which the visitors play an inherently paradoxical game of chess against themselves. One cannot win this game, as one is playing as both white and black, representative of the internal struggles that each one of us encounters. In the three installations, a user experiences a game of chess in which he/she is a central figure. While walking through the intricate spaces of the installations, one encounters life size chess figures that are strategically placed in the space to create zones of danger, the check points from which the visitor needs to escape. This keeps the visitors in a perpetuate motion through the installation, allowing them to reflect on the way in which they navigate through space.

bottom of page