In the Galleries - Marcel Dzama: The End Game at the World Chess Hall of Fame 

Marcel Dzama at the World Chess Hall of Fame.

Courtesy of David Ulmer and the World Chess Hall of Fame

Marcel Dzama at the World Chess Hall of Fame.

Canadian-born, New York-based Marcel Dzama applies his whimsical world-making to film, ballet and costume design in an exhibit whose central element is the 2011 video A Game of Chess. Looking like something out of the 1920s avant-garde — it was inspired by a wonderfully weird, canonical Bauhaus piece, Oskar Schlemmer's 1922 Triadisches Ballett (Triadic Ballet) — the black-and-white video is divided into two narratives and mute but for a musical score. One sequence features dancers in elegantly cumbersome chess-piece costumes engaging in the ballet equivalent of game-board slaughter; the other involves two old men playing chess amid a seemingly war-torn landscape as a woman plots to assassinate one of them. Beyond the projection, blanched-white forms that echo the costumed dancers spin creakily, like old tops. Sketched intricately in pencil and watercolor, detailed notes and storyboards line the gallery, revealing Dzama's methodical approach. These strange and delicate pieces are imbued with so much ambiguity and potential that one can't help but wonder whether Dzama should have left out the video component. Elevated to prominence, the profusion of physical ephemera might move the viewer in any direction, functioning like an inscrutable dream or the wild, unrealized optimism of childhood. Through August 12 at the World Chess Hall of Fame, 4652 Maryland Avenue; 314-367-9243 or www.worldchesshof.org. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wed. and Sat., 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thu.-Fri. and noon-5 p.m. Sun.

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