Hilton | Asmus Contemporary, 716 N. Wells, presents “The History of the Chess Queen - or The Advent of Feminine Power,” an exhibition that celebrates the ingenuity, resilience, and strength of women throughout history. The exhibition opens on Friday, September 8, from 5:30 to 9 pm.
“Everyone knows that the queen is the most dominant piece in chess, but few people know that the game existed for five hundred years without her.” Renowned painters, sculptors, photographers, poets and multimedia artists have come together to pay tribute to “The Queen” and her rise to become the most powerful piece on a board game that originated in 6th century India as a war game.
The Chess Queen did not always exist as an opponent. The pawns were the foot soldiers and the king had a vizier (or advisor) in the place of what we now know as the queen. The game traveled from India through Persia and the Arab lands, up through North Africa until, finally, it landed in Southern Spain with the Moors. Only until 1000 AD did the queen appear on the board. She held little power. Just like the vizier, she could only move one space at a time. In the 15th Century, during the time of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Castile, the queen evolved to become the most powerful piece on the board, just as Isabella was at the height of her power. Inspired by Stanford University Professor Marilyn Yalom's "Birth of the Chess Queen,” (author of History of the Wife and History of the Breast) the exhibition traces the evolution of this now-crucial piece that mirrors many of the trials and tribulations of women and how "one small facet of history can shine a light on society as a whole.”
Today, we bring together more than 30 artists from Australia, England, Scotland, Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Denmark, Germany, Canada, Mexico and the United States to bring a global interpretation to a game that became the reflection and evolution of feminine power in the Western world.
Intelligence, grace, and elegance are central themes to the show, demonstrating but a few of the assets that make women essential to history and society. Although women have had to fight for the right to stand alongside men as equals, the exhibition could easily be construed as a political commentary, especially with events happening today to women all over the world. However, this exhibition attempts to display the evolution of a simple board game that originated with an all male cast to how the most powerful character evolved to become the only female member of game.