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Darren Bader

chess: relatives

May 6, 2017 – March 26, 2018

On the High Line under The Standard, High Line

Darren Bader is an artist whose practice takes a variety of forms, all of which he considers sculpture. He often bridges absurdity and sincerity, resulting in humorous, tongue-in-cheek works that question how certain things – objects, events, thoughts, or concepts – come to be honored as art objects.

For his High Line commission, New York-based artist Darren Bader presents chess: relatives, consisting of a large-scale chessboard designed by the artist and located on the High Line at 13th Street. Visitors are invited to take part in chess games during open park hours in which they take the place of chess pieces, their positions determined by their familial relationships to others.

For chess: relatives, High Line visitors are invited to play a game of chess during open park hours. In order to play, visitors bring a group of 32 people together, who will be “played” by two additional people. Visitors are encouraged to assemble teams with their own friends or family, or to branch out and recruit strangers also visiting the High Line. Referring to the onsite instructions, the group self-organizes according to chess: relatives rules. Read detailed instructions here.

Once the group is organized into the pieces they fit into, the two players play the game, moving the human “pieces” as in a standard game of chess. Once the game begins, the players are no longer allowed to ask for clarification on what kind of piece each person represents. As one of the most interactive artworks exhibited on the High Line, chess: relatives will spark new connections, conversations, and debate amongst visitors. The piece also gives visitors the chance to become a part of an artwork that aims to ask more questions about art than it can answer.

Organized by Cecilia Alemani, Donald R. Mullen, Jr. Director & Chief Curator.

Artist bio

Darren Bader (b. Bridgeport, Connecticut) lives and works in New York City. Recent solo exhibitions have been presented internationally at venues including Kölsnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, Germany (2015) and MoMA PS1, New York City (2012). Bader’s work has been included in group exhibitions at institutions such as Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria (2015); Serralves Museum, Porto, Portugal (2015); and Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2013). His work was in international exhibitions including the 13th Biennale de Lyon, Lyon, France (2015) and the Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2014).


Major support for High Line Art comes from Donald R. Mullen, Jr. and The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston. Additional funding is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. High Line Art is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council and from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.