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. Executive produced by Nicole Hudson and commissioned by the 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 of thechessdrum.net), and woman Grandmaster Jennifer Shahade. The first floor gallery also contains murals depicting chess clocks and boomboxes created by Peat “EYEZ” Wollaeger.
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!
12/2/14: The Chess Drum — “Living Like Kings”… a royal treat!
12/1/14: KDHX — Shannon Bailey and Benjamin Kaplan, “Living Like Kings” (Podcast)
10/19/14: Hot 104.1 — RZA & Adisa Banjoko Panel Discussion
10/16/14: Riverfront Times — Living Like Kings Multimedia Exhibit Links Chess and Hip-Hop
10/16/14: ALIVE Magazine — Q&A With RZA: Hip-Hop Pioneer, Wu-Tang Clan Founder And Chess Player
10/15/14: ALIVE Magazine — World Chess Hall Of Fame “Living Like Kings” Opening Night
10/11/14: Beta’s Block — Tef Poe (@TefPoe) spitting to Wu-Tang’s RZA at the World Chess Hall Of Fame
10/10/14: The Chess Drum — HHCF and WCHOF present “Living Like Kings”
10/9/14: ALIVE Magazine — World Chess Hall Of Fame Premieres ‘Living Like Kings’ Tonight
10/9/14: The St. Louis Egotist — #ShitToHit TONIGHT: Living Like Kings Opening Reception - The Unexpected Collision of Chess & Hip Hop @WorldChessHOF
10/9/14: St. Louis Public Radio — Worlds Collide: Hip-Hop And Chess At The World Chess Hall Of Fame
10/8/14: STLToday.com — Rapper RZA speaking on panel bringing together youth issues and chess
10/8/14: West End Word — “Living Like Kings” At Chess Hall Of Fame
10/2/14: Ebony — Hip-Hop Chess Federation Makes Grandmaster Moves
10/1/2014: St. Louis Jewish Light — All the Right Moves
10/2014: ALIVE Magazine — Hip Hop Happening
10/2014: ALIVE Magazine — 7 Things to Do This Month: Live Like Royalty
9/23/14: STL Hip Hop — Living Like Kings: The Unexpected Collision of Chess and Hip Hop Culture (Press Release)
7/16/14: STLCurator — The World Chess Hall of Fame Attracts … Hip-Hop and Fashion Lovers?