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"Cage and Kaino: Pieces and Performances" opens at the World Chess Hall of Fame
Kaino’s brilliant The Burning Boards piece was first performed at the Whitney Museum in New York in 2007. A second performance took place in 2008 for the Orange County Museum of Art’s exhibition Disorderly Conduct.

ST. LOUIS, MO.- Intelligence ignite at the World Chess Hall of Fame when the masterworks of two creative geniuses are presented together for the first time.

Cage and Kaino: Pieces and Performances showcases the work of John Cage and Glenn Kaino, two artists and inventors who used chess as inspiration for their globally-acclaimed work.

“Even though Cage and Kaino were born 60 years apart and never met, they produced incredible art that shares many commonalities. Together, they highlight how a game that is often a metaphor for war and battle can also be used to build relationships and community,” said Larry List, guest curator for the exhibition.

The exhibition includes the electronic chess/musical composing board used by John Cage, Marcel Duchamp, and Alexina “Teeny” Duchamp to perform Cage’s famous 1968 Reunion concert; Glenn Kaino’s 80” x 80” piece called Learn to Win or You Will Take Losing for Granted, a monumental chess set that in which the pieces are bronze casts of the artist’s hands; and Kaino’s One Hour Paintings of famous chess grandmasters including Bobby Fischer.

“One of the highlights of this exhibition will be the performance art associated with it. Cage’s Reunion will be performed at the beginning of the show and Kaino’s The Burning Boards piece will provide a memorable event later in the exhibition’s run,” List said.

Reunion is a musical performance created by Cage that debuted in 1968 in Toronto, Canada. The single “instrument” in the concert is a chess board wired to play different selections of music according to the placement of chess pieces on individual squares. Music is spontaneously composed according to the moves that the players choose: the performance begins quietly as only a few pieces are in play, crescendos in the center of the game, and then slowly fades as more and more pieces are captured. One final note signifies checkmate.

“Cage used Reunion as an excuse to bring his favorite people together to do the things they like best: visit, play chess, and create music in new and different ways. They arrived the day before the 1968 concert like a band of high-tech gypsies, offloading components that were custom made by them to create sounds that had never been heard before,” List said.

The exhibition provides visitors with the chance to make their own unique music at a Reunion chess board that is part of the exhibition.

Kaino’s brilliant The Burning Boards piece was first performed at the Whitney Museum in New York in 2007. A second performance took place in 2008 for the Orange County Museum of Art’s exhibition Disorderly Conduct.

The Burning Boards is made of sixteen small tables – one for each century of chess. Atop each table is a simple wooden chess board with uniquely cast wax candles as pieces. The performance takes place in a dark room that is illuminated when players light their candles and begin the game. They must use long silver tongs to move pieces before they melt or become stuck to the board.

“Something magical happens as players participate. This game that is about competition and dominance becomes a partnership as they see that they’re struggling against a similar challenge, which is finishing before the pieces melt and become unusable,” List said.

Pieces and Performances opened on May 8 and will run through September 21, 2014. Admission is free.

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