Larry and Debby Kline artists and provocateurs – installation, performances, and other works

Press Release: The Game at Hand Is at Hand and Will Be Hands On (Apr. 28, 2009)

Debby and Larry Kline are pleased to announce coverage of The Game at Hand in Thursday’s edition of The North County Times (see below.)  The artists will be lecturing on the project on May 16, 2009 at California Center for the Arts Museum, Escondido.  Following the artists talk at 1PM visitors will be encouraged to play the game. The artists will videotape the matches for possible inclusion in The Game at Hand documentary.
Married artists make all the right moves with global chess game

By PATRICIA MORRIS BUCKLEY – For the North County Times | Wednesday, April 22, 2009 8:58 AM PDT

As the country geared up to watch U.S. forces invade Afghanistan in 2001, artists Debby and Larry Kline grappled with how to express what they felt. Of course, those feeling were best channeled through their art, and the result was “The Game at Hand,” a mixed-media artwork at the center of their joint exhibition at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido Museum.

“The Game at Hand” is a chessboard that’s slightly larger than a standard chess set. The difference is that one side is all grey-cloaked figures and the other is a variety of American icons, such as the Statue of Liberty, a stack of pennies, the Pentagon and the White House.

“The game of chess has always been a metaphor for conflict and war,” said the couple via e-mail from Jerusalem, where they are mounting a new site-specific installation. “By playing the game of chess with a specific conflict associated with it, war becomes more real for people and more difficult to ignore. We wanted to give people the feeling of the confusion associated with war.”

In fact, they don’t believe that the game can be played fairly —- just like the real conflicts of the world.

“Our set only has individuality on the United States side of the board,” they said. “The pieces of the opposition are all identical to each other so after several moves it becomes difficult to remember the rank of the pieces or how they are supposed to move. The identical pieces appear to be figures wearing burkas, so one cannot tell if they are to be considered a knight, a queen, king or pawn thereby eliminating how they should move.

This kind of politically motivated art is nothing new for the Klines. They first met while earning their art degrees at the John Herron School of Art in Indiana. They work together and apart. Both have individual work in such museums as The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, The Chicago Art Institute and The Indianapolis Museum of Art. They have started a think tank in an effort to encourage a more vibrant art community in Southern California.

The Klines previously exhibited “The Game at Hand” at Tres Gallery in San Diego, as well as the Cross-Cultural Center at UC San Diego. They also traveled the set across the country videotaping chess matches and dialogue, with the assistance of a grant from the Gunk Foundation in New York. Venues included the campus of Arizona State University (during the presidential debates in Tempe), San Francisco, Fort Worth, Texas, and New York. It was also shown and played at the U.S. Chess Championships here in San Diego at the Naval Training Center. The installation at the Escondido museum includes video from some of these venues. Reactions have varied.

“Some focus on the complexity of the game while others turn to the global issues,” they reported. “We have had some players try to create new rules to play an unorthodox game, others antagonized by the presence of pieces that look like women in burkas, still others sharing sympathetic comments toward the women —- feeling that the U.S. must protect these individuals who cannot protect themselves. The most remarkable aspect is that while we documented dozens of games, only one individual intentionally cheated by turning all of his players into queens (the most powerful player on the board.) Instead the element of confusion forced opponents to cooperate by helping each other remember the rank of the anonymous pieces as they moved about the board. Essentially they had to trust their opponent in order to play the game to fruition.”

The Klines are now creating an adobe hut on the roof of Jerusalem’s The Museum on the Seam using clay from the Dead Sea.

“The work is a response to the plight of the sea which is quickly disappearing as water is being diverted from the Jordan River to provide drinking water for Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority,” they said. “Mud brick architecture is one of the most ancient of architectural techniques and one of the earliest visible signs of humans exploiting and manipulating their environment.”

As for “The Game at Hand,” the Klines said they’d like to see it continue engaging people around the country.

“The piece brings together disparate cultures on common ground —- the field of war,” they said. “It appeals to us because of that notion that one person can change the world. And there are two of us.”

“Divi/nation: Work by Debby & Larry Kline”

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays; through June 21

Where: California Center for the Arts, Escondido Museum, 340 N. Escondido Blvd., Escondido

Tickets: $5, general; $4, seniors/active military; $3, students with ID; children under age 12 and members admitted free


BRIEF BIO – The Klines
Ranging from installations, sculpture and video, the Klines artworks focus on political, economic, and social issues often combining art and science and the nature of creative thinking.  The Klines are also freelance curators and writers.

To view more of Debby and Larry Kline’s works see:
To contact the Klines email:
To learn more about The Museum on the Seam see:

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