Fluxus Art and Play
Play it by Trust - Yoko Ono - 1966-1998
According to Mesch, "Fluxus always cultivated the qualities of play, which [George] Maciunas understood as being connected to the mass-culture phenomena of amusement and entertainment within art." Fluxus games such as Chess on a Backgammon table were, of course, unplayable, but this did not make the works failures. They were artistic expressions and succeeded in making players and observers think about the nature of rules. To play Chess on a Backgammon table is to play neither Chess nor Backgammon, for the rules must be modified in a hybrid of the two games. Fluxus games were not gags; they were commentaries on the rules of making, buying, selling, and canonizing art. Through entertainment and "lack of seriousness," they were able to grab the public's attention, with the hope that Fluxus works "might bring the public to the realization of social and political injustice."
Yoko Ono's Play it by Trust consisted of a series of installations based on the concept of an all white Chess set. The installations vary in form. In East Hampton, New York, at Longhouse, Ono installed a 16.5 foot square marble and concrete Chess set. There have been a number of small white table and chair sets produced, and an iteration of ten all white sets laid out at a conference table. Ono's Chess modifications represent prime examples of a game—specifically a war game—adapted and utilized as a call for peace. In Play it by Trust, players ultimately lose track of their pieces as their forces move forward. The pieces become lost as "enemies" meet, and, unable to differentiate sides by color, players either must remember where their pieces are, remember the direction their pieces face, or realize that they are all the same. The experience of becoming lost ultimately shows that both sides are equal, forcing players either to follow the standard rules for Chess or to create a new way to play. Here a game that traditionally represents a war is used to show that there are alternatives to fighting, and that when people recognize their similarities, they can find new ways to play, work together, and coexist in peace.
Play it by Trust - Yoko Ono - 1999
In the film Imagine, Yoko flashes her leg and John Lennon puts a chess piece in his mouth.