Living Like Kings is an exhibition that explores the surprising ways in which the ancient game of chess intersects with the powerful, creative expression in hip hop culture, which includes music, fashion, art, dance, and spirituality.
“The concept for Living Like Kings began when WCHOF’s team was introduced to Adisa Banjoko, an author and educator who founded the nonprofit Hip Hop Chess Federation in San Francisco, CA. Adisa fuses chess and hip hop to promote peace, knowledge, and self-reliance among young people. This has been the inspiration for our ground-breaking art exhibition,” said Shannon Bailey, chief curator at the World Chess Hall of Fame.
The exhibition is centered on an immersive, multimedia experience created by Saint Louis artist Benjamin Kaplan and executive producer Nicole Hudson, with murals by Peat “EYEZ” Wollaeger. Commissioned by WCHOF, the installation includes archival and original video, music and photography, custom-designed type and illustration, and a series of interviews. Kaplan weaves these pieces together to create a linear narrative that will literally surround visitors in sound and sight using inventive projection techniques.
Kaplan’s piece is approximately 25 minutes in length and will be shown in WCHOF’s first floor gallery. It touches on themes that chess and hip hop share: history, strategy, spirituality, process, creativity, education, and symbolism. Interviewees for the piece include Banjoko, International Grandmaster Maurice Ashley, Wu-Tang Clan member RZA, Eugene Brown (founder of Big Chair Chess Club, Inc.), Dr. Daaim Shabazz (founder ofthechessdrum.net), and woman Grandmaster Jennifer Shahade.
WCHOF’s second floor gallery will serve as a companion Learning Lab for the Living Like Kings exhibition. The lab will allow visitors to participate in the show through interactive music and video stations, hands-on art opportunities, and educational presentations.
The Learning Lab will open with graffiti-inspired exhibitions by two local artists. Street Beautification is an exhibition of photographs by Adrian O. Walker featuring powerful images of graffiti from the St. Louis area showcase an art form that many consider vandalism, but is often beautiful and extremely vibrant.
Artist Daniel Burnett is curating the development of a series of murals that will be created by a team of artists throughout the run of Living Like Kings. Each month, a new artist will create a work based upon a different chess piece, beginning with Burnett’s images of the pawn. Subsequent months will feature work by Christopher Burch, Ruben Aguirre, Ben Pierce, Stan Chisholm, and Nice & Lucx.
B-boy images © Patrick Lanham
More information coming soon!
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9/23/14: STL Hip Hop — Living Like Kings: The Unexpected Collision of Chess and Hip Hop Culture (Press Release)
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