Merav Tzur
Graduate Student

Group: Department of Art Practice

Web site:

Personal statement

Sarah Gray searches for the artifacts and evidence from which she creates her own reality. Sarah Gray and everything she discovers are, though, the creations of Merav Tzur and thus one begins looking at her work a few steps removed.

Merav created Sarah Gray as an ambiguous, universal figure to tell Merav's stories. She is our hero researcher trying to explain why the world is the way it is. Her practices are modeled on those of professional researchers. The disciplines of  archaeology and and anthropology stand out in her work. "evidence" is unearthed and catalogued; recordings are made. The process has the same weight and feel of that found in a large museum.

The presentation follows the same model; every object is given a unique evidence identification tag. The tag details the date, location, and description of each artifact as it was collected. When the work is shown formally, Merav acts as the Curator and Sarah the researcher out in the field, not explicitly existant or not. Sarah needn't be present. The focus is on the work itself rather than the character even though the character is a necessary part of the work's story.

One of Sarah's research projects was documenting the West Oakland BART station. The project is not literally about Oakland's mass transit system. Rather, it is presented as a portal to the four corners of paradise. The documentation consists of videos, large photographs, and artifacts. Merav uses these materials to tell the story of Masha, a fictional resident of the neighborhood, and her visitation by an angel. Merav draws on the neighborhood's rich history, much of which has become part of the archaeological record beneath the redeveloped areas where the BART station and post office are. Other projects include the documentation of Billy the Kid in the Babylon of San Francisco and of Maenads inhabiting the east bay hills.

In Her studio, the Sarah Gray Research Center, Merav tells one of those stories which has been passed down through the generations and has become part of the cultural fabric. The one problem, she mentions after telling the story, is that there is no evidence in the archaeological record to support it. The reality has been generated much in the same way Merav and Sarah "explore issues of fictional fabrication and subjective reality." This is the substance of Merav's practice. It is the tension between the formal documentation & cataloging and the questioning of that formal process. Much like how one's subjective reality is created by the artifacts one interacts with on a daily basis, a new reality can be created if enough artifacts and documentation can be fabricated.

(Text by Jonathan Gerken, Ph.D. Candidate)