International Chess Federation
Monday, 08 Apr 2024 16:34
"Capture": changing the perception of chess through photography

More than a traditional exhibition, "Capture" is a project by photographer Stev Bonhage challenging the conventional perception of chess

The exhibition was opened on Saturday evening in the center of the Swiss capital, Bern. Situated in a bustling public square within Bern's historic Old City, "Capture" invites the audience to discover the colorful world hiding behind sixty-four black and white squares.

From palaces to prisons, from world champions to children in slums, chess transcends boundaries, uniting people from all walks of life. More than a relentless pursuit of victory, the 64-square game creates a world of its own, combining life experiences, hopes, dreams and sorrows. It is this human story that Stev Bonhage hopes to communicate with the audience in his first chess exhibition, showcasing his work covering top international events and FIDE's social initiative in refugee camps and prisons, where chess is played. 

The exhibition's grand opening on Saturday evening welcomed esteemed guests, including former Women's World Champion Aleksandra Kosteniuk, alongside FIDE officials and the President of the Swiss Chess Federation, André Vögtlin.

Dana Reizniece-Ozola, Deputy Chair of FIDE's Management Board, emphasized the exhibition's significance in broadening public perceptions of chess.

"FIDE is not only for professional chess players; it is so much more. FIDE is investing in many different initiatives – for women, children, projects for people with ADHD, people in prisons and many other groups… Chess is for everyone, and this exhibition aims to showcase that. We therefore hope that people who see these photos will be engaged and inspired to take up the game," Reziniece-Ozola said.

Stev Bonhage (born in 1985 in Germany) has been photographing chess since 2022. The photographs in the exhibition are based on his monograph "Capture", representing a visual dialogue between chess and life, seen through the lens of the camera. It is part of his broader approach in which Bonhage wants to change the way chess is perceived.

"Chess is something that brings everyone together. It combines tradition and change, and in life, you need a balance of the two. I always say that I am a better player off the board than on the board thanks to what I have learnt through the game," Bonhage said.

"Chess is a game of life. If I can come close to what chess has given me, this exhibition is what I want to give back," he added.

"Capture" is sponsored by Freedom Holding Corp. – a U.S.-based financial services company that has been supporting chess events in recent years - as well as the Kazakhstan Chess Federation and France's energy giant, TotaleEnergy.

"The ambition of Stev's project and the quality of his work resonate deeply with our company's values and aspirations. We support every effort to enhance chess, recognizing its significance in developing human potential in both life and business. We are proud to be sponsoring this project and look forward to the exhibition traveling to other countries, spreading the message of chess," Freedom Holding said in a statement.

"FIDE is grateful to the sponsors for their belief in our organization and support of the cause to promote chess more to the wider audience," Dana Reizniece-Ozola said.

Visitors are invited to experience the "Capture" exhibition, open 24 hours a day in Bern's public square until April 14. After Switzerland, the exhibition will travel to Morocco as part of the next phase of the FIDE 100 celebration.

Photos: Stev Bonhage