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The World Chess Hall of Fame celebrates art and chess with Glenn Kaino's The Burning Boards
The Burning Boards, September 1, 2014, The World Chess Hall of Fame. Photo courtesy of Carmody Creative.

ST. LOUIS, MO.- On September 9, 2014, the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF) brought together 16 chess experts and 16 artists and art experts to participate in the third performance of Glenn Kaino’s The Burning Boards as part of its exhibition Cage and Kaino: Pieces and Performances, which closed on September 21, 2014. This brilliant piece was first performed at the Whitney Museum in 2007 and later held in conjunction with the Orange County Museum of Art’s exhibition Disorderly Conduct in 2008.

The Burning Boards is a performance art piece in which players from the worlds of art and chess compete against each other at 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.

“It was an absolute honor to have such a prestigious blend of the some of the most elite chess players in history participate in this artistic performance alongside figures from the art world. The Burning Boards really exemplifies what we do at the World Chess Hall of Fame—celebrate the cultural influence of the game of chess,” said Shannon Bailey, WCHOF Chief Curator.

The performance took place during the second Sinquefield Cup, an extremely prestigious international chess tournament that featured 6 of the top 9 chess players in the world. All of the Cup competitors participated in the performance, including Magnus Carlsen, the reigning World Chess Champion and 2014 Sinquefield Cup winner, Fabiano Caruana. Additional chess players included Grandmasters Maurice Ashley, Ben Finegold, and Yasser Seriawan along with Women’s Grandmaster Jennifer Shahade. These elite players were paired against artists, museum directors, and authors including Duchamp scholars, Francis Naumann and Bradley Bailey; Matt Strauss, Director of White Flag Projects, Saint Louis; Paul Ha, Director of MIT’s List Visual Art Center; and artists Glenn Kaino and Liliya Lifánova.

Cage & Kaino: Pieces and Performances is curated by Larry List.

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