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Twelve women explore societal issues through chess in new exhibition at World Chess Hall of Fame
Barbara Kruger, Untitled (Do you feel comfortable losing?), 2006. Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York.

ST. LOUIS, MO.- The World Chess Hall of Fame announces the opening of a thought-provoking exhibition of multi-media chess artwork by world-renowned female artists: Ladies’ Knight: A Female Perspective on Chess. The show opened on Thursday, Oct. 29 and presents works by artists Crystal Fischetti, Debbie Han, Barbara Kruger, Liliya Lifanova, Goshka Macuga, Sophie Matisse, Yoko Ono, Daniela Raytchev, Jennifer Shahade, Yuko Suga, Diana Thater and Rachel Whiteread. Their diverse interpretations of the game range from playful and feminine to serious and encourage dialogue on subjects such as crime, language, peace and conflict, notions of beauty and inequality.

“It is a privilege to have the opportunity to showcase such a powerful roster of well-established — and emerging — female artists under one roof,” said Shannon Bailey, WCHOF chief curator. “The artists collectively explore a range of subject matter which offers a visually rich and stimulating viewing experience.”

The mission of the WCHOF is to advance public awareness around the cultural and artistic significance of chess, a game that has historically been male-dominated but in which women play a central role.

“This is a breakthrough exhibit on many levels,” said Jean Hoffman, Executive Director of the United States Chess Federation, who has been active in empowering individuals — and specifically women and girls — through chess. “It allows viewers to experience chess as a communications vehicle regarding relevant, pressing issues of our time through the lens of powerful and talented female artists.”

Exhibit Highlights:

• Saint Louis artist Yuko Suga draws inspiration from recent events in Ferguson and other major cities around the U.S. and creates chess pieces and an accompanying board representing public figures, protestors and law enforcement made of sterling silver, porcelain, Bullseye glass and acrylic. A line of black pawns are labeled “Black Lives Matter, “No Justice No Peace” and “All Lives Matter”. The chess board represents the role the media plays in bringing “moves” to our attention, which also heightens our reactions. Suga says where the game ends will depend on how each player chooses to move.

• In Barbara Kruger’s Untitled (Do you feel comfortable losing?), when a piece is moved into a position, a microchip is triggered that plays one of over 100 possible statements, which are also printed on the set’s flight-case-style box, through a small speaker. The conversation mirrors the virtually limitless number of possible move sequences in a chess match and the vast number — and seemingly random interactions — of slogans, headlines and sound bites seen and heard every day in the mass media.

• Artist and longtime peace activist Yoko Ono’s all-white chess set, Play It by Trust (Roskilde Version), recontextualizes a game that is normally thought of as a metaphor for war, emphasizing collaboration over competition and empathy over opposition.

• Daniela Raytchev’s art offers a rare, subjective expression and perception of the world. Her piece, Addictions, is about the inner conflict between the negative destructive self and the toxic crutches we hold on to as a result of fear and anxiety against the loving, positive and nurturing self. Raytchev’s set, as well as Crystal Fischetti’s Sun and Moon, are Purling London Art Chess sets, individually hand painted by specially commissioned British-based artists and no two sets are the same. Purling has collaborated with 20 artists to date. Complete with a numbered certificate signed by the artist, each hand-carved, triple-weighted set is a miniature sculptural masterpiece.

• Jennifer Shahade, a U.S. Women’s Chess Champion, author, commentator and poker player produced a video in which she plays chess against a naked man based on a famous photo of a clothed Marcel Duchamp playing against the author Eve Babitz, in the nude.

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