It has been a huge honor to work with artists Daniel Meirom, Jennifer Shahade and Kledia Spiro in the process of organizing and curating this show. I invited Jennifer to be part of my show after reading her book “Chess Bitch” and seeing her conceptual photos, videos and installations online that she creates with Daniel Meirom. She suggested a chess match with women chess players. I also invited Kledia Spiro to collaborate with us on this show. Kledia is a performance, video and installation artist who uses strength and weightlifting as a symbol of survival, empowerment and celebration. Kledia conceptualized the Battle of the Beasts performance where she featured Jennifer Shahade and Vanessa Sun playing a chess match. She also invited two male athletes in corporate attire to be the loaders of the match until she decided to push one away and even the playing field. The themes of feminism, empowerment, backlash, mythology, family, and community took shape as we created new work for the show.
One of the most gratifying parts of the show is reaching out to the chess community and hosting chess games with local players in the gallery during the show. But my favorite visitor to the gallery was a 20 something year old woman whose family came into the gallery on their way to dinner in a local restaurant. Her mother said, “I am leaving now, we’ll see you at the restaurant. These are creepy” to which her daughter said, “I know that’s why I like them, text me when you get a table.” The young woman spent an hour with me in the gallery after closing time to study the pieces- she asked me if I knew Cthulhu and HP Lovecraft. “He is the modern voice of Sci Fi who has taken it to the next level. No one is doing what he is but he makes lots of problematic assumptions in his stories about women, that I find hard to overlook. When I saw your chess set I wondered if you had tried to re-imagine Cthulu from a woman’s point of view.” Her comment made me think that disliking ourselves as women is such familiar territory and liking ourselves as women is so alien.
Thank you to everyone who came to see our show.