Ilya Kabakov: The Man who Never Threw Anything Away.Amei Wallach's Ilya Kabakov Ilya Kabakov, Russian Илья Иосифович Кабаков (September 30 1933) is an American conceptual artist of Russian-Jewish origin, born in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine. : The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away unfolds with something of the phantasmagoric phan·tas·ma·go·ri·a also phan·tas·ma·go·ry
n. pl. phan·tas·ma·go·ri·as also phan·tas·ma·go·ries
a. A fantastic sequence of haphazardly associative imagery, as seen in dreams or fever.
b. fairy-tale vision that characterizes Russian lubki (folk prints). In Wallach's essay and Kabakov's commentaries on his own work, life in the Soviet Union emerges as both treacherous and absurd, rocked by enormous political upheavals and marked by an existential angst that pulsates like a persistent toothache Toothache Definition
A toothache is any pain or soreness within or around a tooth, indicating inflammation and possible infection.
A toothache may feel like a sharp pain or a dull ache. , one that can sometimes be soothed with the kind laughter Kabakov's installations Ilya Kabakov completed 155 installations between 1983–2000. He implements them around the world. This page lists several that were extracted from his main page Ilya Kabakov in order to condense the article. often provoke. In these pages, we return to the gentle mysticism of Nikolai Gogol's and Anton Chekhov's sketches of Russian life Russian Life, previously known as The USSR and Soviet Life, is a 64-page color bimonthly magazine of Russian culture. It celebrated its 50th birthday in October 2006. , the writings of anarchist Mikhail Bakunin and religious philosopher Nicolai Berdyaev, casting aside the postrevolutionary morbidity of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Gulag, system of forced-labor prison camps in the USSR, from the Russian acronym [GULag] for the Main Directorate of Corrective Labor Camps, a department of the Soviet secret police (originally the Cheka; subsequently the GPU, OGPU, NKVD, MVD, and finally the KGB). Archipelago and the prosaism pro·sa·ism
1. A quality or style that is prosaic.
2. A prosaic word, phrase, or other expression. of Giorgii Shalamov's Kolyma Tales. From this carefully tilled soil springs what Robert Storr describes in his introduction as Kabakov's "conceptualism conceptualism, in philosophy, position taken on the problem of universals, initially by Peter Abelard in the 12th cent. Like nominalism it denied that universals exist independently of the mind, but it held that universals have an existence in the mind as concept. with a human face."
Tracing the evolution of Kabakov's art - from his early work as an illustrator of children's books, to his albums and paintings, to his more recent "total installations" - Wallach's biographical narrative is usefully framed by a sociopolitical so·ci·o·po·li·ti·cal
Involving both social and political factors.
of or involving political and social factors chronology of Soviet Russia. Her account, much like Bulgakov's renowned Master & Margarita - and Kabakov's oeuvre itself - effects a strange marriage between blunt, mundane reality and visionary fiction. With remarkable insight into daily life and a novelist's passion for colorful metaphors, Wallach paints an initially compelling portrait of an artist whose work is "as deeply rooted in Russian cultural history, Soviet attitude, and autobiography as in any contemporary Western praxis." In this schema, Kabakov himself emerges as a vital member of the unofficial art scene, which he describes as a kind of family, strengthened in the face of a common enemy. "Everyone belonged to one of these little friendly groups, but everyone knew everybody else because they all shared the same fate. Like a family... in a bomb shelter. Everyone is sitting on his own suitcase, but they are all together in the same basement.... We were all united by the same fate and the danger that we would all be destroyed, it could happen any day."
In accepting Kabakov's heroic account of his "internal exile" - which presumably pre·sum·a·ble
That can be presumed or taken for granted; reasonable as a supposition: presumable causes of the disaster. began in the late '60s and ended with his departure from the Soviet Union in 1988 - Wallach's text falls short on two counts. First, it makes too much of Kabakov's outsider status since it was precisely as privileged insider, not as dissident, that Kabakov-cum-homo sovieticus was able to analyze the Soviet system with such remarkable perceptiveness, to endow the drabness of communal life, epitomized by the kommunalka (the communal apartment), with a certain poetry. Indeed, Kabakov's position was not unique within Soviet society, and in many ways differed little from that of the average citizen in a totalitarian state. In Vaclav Havel's words, "Individuals need not believe all these mystifications [produced by the communist system], but they must behave as though they did, or they must at least tolerate them in silence, or get along well with those who work with them.... For this very fact, individuals confirm the system, fulfill the system, make the system, are the system." Secondly, to locate the end of Kabakov's "internal exile" in the artist's departure from Moscow dismisses the possibility that his arrival in the U.S. might be construed as simply an extension of this condition.
Among those Russian artists who have, in recent years, gained recognition in the West, Kabakov is certainly the most accomplished and complex, but his work also readily validates a nostalgic reading of Soviet culture as a "fatal utopia," and this is no small part of his success. Kabakov's magic realism with a communist twist, in which horrors can become dreams and pain has "real" meaning, has an undeniably strong psychological appeal. Thus it comes as no surprise that, in the end, Ilya Kabakov, much like the work of the artist who is its subject, sounds the death knell of the Soviet order, as if the fate of the former communist state had already been sealed.
Marek Bartelik is coauthor with Dore Ashton and Matti Megged of The Sculpture of Ursula von Rydingsvard Ursula von Rydingsvard (1942 -) is a Polish-American abstract sculptor. Born in a German refugee camp, she emigrated to Connecticut with her family in 1950, and later studied art at Columbia University. , to be published this fall by Hudson Hills Press.