All February long during Black History Month, Repair the World is checking in with people, organizations, and projects working on the forefront of Black issues and celebrating the Black community in America. Today we’ve got our spotlight on: Living Like Kings – a powerful exhibit about the intersection of chess and hip hop, on view through April 26 at the World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis.
Created and curated by St. Louis-based artist, Ben Kaplan, the exhibit is inspired by the work of Adisa Banjoko, an artist and activist who founded the peace and knowledge-building organization, Hip Hop Chess Federation, which teaches chess to youth. As Banjoko has written, “Street chess grew in popularity across America in the 1970s as hip hop emerged from its embryonic stage. On the corners where street chess thrived, rap, DJ, and dance battles also took place. The same strategies and insight required to win on the chessboard assisted those clashing on the mic, the turntable, and the dance floor. Like the game of chess, each of the elements of hip hop became defined by the beautiful irony that they were war games that could also be used to promote peace around the world.”
Kaplan’s exhibit features a gallery and 27-minute video instillation that explores contemporary issues, politics, education, and justice and through the intersection of chess and hip hop. Kaplan also created a Learning Lab, which hosts interactive projects and performances.
Both chess and hip hop transcend racial boundaries and can enlighten, inspire, and educate people while bringing them together across difference. Whether you are deeply steeped in the world of chess or hip hop, or a total novice to both, Kaplan’s exhibit offers a compelling entree into a fascinating world with a powerful message.
If you are in St. Louis, check it out at the World Chess Hall of Fame. And find out more by watching the video trailer below.