Hayon at Play

London Design Festival 2009

London Design Festival 2009

Play is big right now. Big play is even bigger. Jaime Hayon’s  latest creation The Tournament in Trafalgar Square is a spectacle before it’s a game: a beautiful spectacle based on a beautiful game.  If you haven’t seen the man sized painted chess pieces, upraised in Trafalgar Square, the historiacal home of all battle,  they’re worth it.  com

Each game is played by two contenders over an hour. One sits up in the white chair, one in the black, at opposite ends of the giant board. Each game lasts one hour and is presided over by a compere. Each move is enacted on the great board battlefield by Hayon helpers, who move the huge pieces for the pleasure of the crowd.  The pieces themselves are ornate, intricate, bespoke, and just  recognisably chessmen. The contests are virtual, figurative, played more for the sheer hell of it than to win a game of chess like the grandmasters. And the audience watches something apart from the game, the moves and the chance of victory. They can’t really follow the match anyway to be honest. But this is not about victory. The tournament is for the giant thrill of the game.

Mike Exon


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