FluxChess – A fascinating combination of chess and art:
Annual exhibition of the SEEWERK in Moers-Kapellen puts the main focus on Fluxus artist Takako Saito – organized and displayed by Angelika Petri and Frank Merks.

There was no announcement of this event by the current chess media (print or web), so it was certainly a happy coincidence when I recently heard from our US member Larry List about an exhibition of the Japanese Fluxus artist Takako Saito taking place nearly within "spitting" distance from my home (only 20 km away).

At that time the opening of the exhibition – on 08/09/2012 at the Cultural Island NEPIX KULL in the Moers palace garden – was already history, but I had the opportunity to go to Moers on two consecutive Sundays (23 + 30 September) to visit at first the Music Chess Sets at Nepix Kull (the island is not open to the public due to the absence of a bridge, for easily comprehensible reasons), and afterwards to admire the artworks of Takako Saito in the SEEWERK on Lake "Silbersee" (Moers-Kapellen).
I had seized a second date in order to meet Takako Saito who should be present on 30 September, and indeed the opportunity arose for a short encounter with the artist who mainly (but not solely) picks chess out as a central theme in her imposing oeuvre: she playfully incorporates chess elements and motifs in her works of art and in this connection completely disregards the competitive nature of chess. In my following selection of photographs I will focus on her artworks, so the works of other artists who exhibit in the Seewerk as well are mainly not considered here.

The Music Chess Sets at Nepix Kull:

In chess set No 1 the chessmen consist of short trunks equipped with "sound elements" – the latter generate soft tones when moved by the wind:

Similarly chess set No 2, the chessmen were made of logs equally mounted with sound objects.
The small chess tables between the music chess sets are a wine chess and a canapé chess respectively.
The white figure hovering between the trees symbolizes the dove of peace whose vesture also constitutes a wind chime.

Enlarged pictures of Chess Set No 1 and Set No 2.


Poster - click to enlarge!
Peformance of Takako Saito, hovering as dove of peace above Lake Silbersee in a heavy-weight costume (of about 30 kg!).

Photo by Jörg Parsick-Matthieu  © Seewerk (Takako Saito)




Some works of art on the Seewerk area:

New works by Takako Saito are the Block chess ("Klotzschachspiel") and Chess for mice and squirrels – the walnut chessmen of the latter were actually a welcome prey for the squirrels poaching in the surroundings, as I heard from Angelika Petri.


Block Chess



Chess for Mice and Squirrels


"The sphere and the guardians of becoming"
(Die Kugel und die Wächter des Werdens) by Anatol Herzfeld


Installation "Auf dem See" by Gabriele Fekete:
A pontoon with a sitting person swimming on Lake Silbersee.
Click picture for enlarged detail.


"Unification of capitalism and freedom" by Pit Bohne:
Carrier rocket has struck a Trabi – symbol for the clash between East and West.



The staircase leads to Takako Saito’s exhibition in the upper floor,
two halls are filled with their works.


I am happy to offer below three snapshots of Takako Saito
(*1929, since 1978 resident in Düsseldorf):






A "Portrait of Takako"
which shows her self-deprecating distance.

Narrow side of the sculpture.


A three-dimensional chess with 8 tiers reminds me of the efforts of Ferdinand Maack
in the early 20th century to popularize a space chess with eight 8 x 8 boards.


"Schachspiel im Wald" (Chess in the Forest) - all the chessmen consist of
apparently identical little clogs – they distinguish from one another
by different notches in the soles (underneath)!



Another whimsical chess set


Chess pyramids – equipped with yellow "kinder surprise eggs".
The latter should be some decades old …


"Hat chess" – bowlers with spiral chess stair and mini board respectively
– highly original!


Book Chess No 1



Book Chess No 2



Experiment with water and Indian ink

Click to enlarge!

You will find additional 62 photographs in these picture galleries:
Gallery Seewerk I (32 photos) and Seewerk II (30 photos)


You may read more about Takako Saito and FluxChess on the following pages:

- Wikipedia Page of Takako Saito
- Short biography
- Spice Chess
- Cold War Games and Postwar Art by Claudia Mesch

Further Links (in German):

- Das SEEWERK / Press releases
- Anja Katzke: Die Kunst als Spiel (PDF)
- Anja Katzke:  Die Pyramide als Schachspiel
- Museumsplattform NRW


Ralf Binnewirtz, 05/10/2012


PS (11/11/2011): Meanwhile four YouTube videos have been published on the event:

Takako Saito, Seewerk 2012 Indoor

Takako meets Taiko

Opera, Takako Saito

Seewerk 2012



Additional information