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Indepth Arts News:

"Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: The Architecture Projects"
2004-09-12 until 2004-11-14
Kunsthalle Bielefeld
Bielefeld, , DE

The Russian, as Ilya Kabakov states, thinks that Earth is the wrong place to live. His existence is like that of a child that has to enter an overfilled stagecoach without a ticket. As a consequence, his thoughts revolve around the cosmos and his true capacity lies in art. The artist moves about its spaces, through fantasies and projects, on the way to his or her goal. Ilya Kabakov’s development over the last thirty years has always been based on literary and later on drawn ideas for projects. His prime concern is transforming the conditions in which people live and are trapped as is by fate, and liberation from evil.

Since 1999, the “Palace of Projects” conceived for the Zollverein colliery in Essen has provided a foretaste of the many possibilities that exist. Among the major ventures still to be realised is the conversion of the entire coking plant into a “Utopian city“. It is to be the setting of three theatres dedicated to Dante, Wagner and Tchaikovsky respectively. Numerous other plans combine the stuff of fairytales with Baroque Maisons de plaisances and stage constructions hailing from the Soviet avant-garde.

Since he began collaborating with his wife Emilia in 1989, Kabakov has achieved ever greater precision in the planning and rendering of his architectural ideas. The two artists are fully set on realizing their architectural designs. Projects are currently scheduled for completion at a number of locations in Europe and America.

Almost a decade after the large exhibition of their installations at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, the Kunsthalle Bielefeld is proud to present a retrospective of Ilya and Emilia Kabakov’s architectural projects. The exhibition encompasses some six hundred drawings and over forty models, and will completely fill the Philip Johnson building. A hardback artist’s book containing four hundred richly illustrated pages will be published for the occasion in English and German, price € 45.

The film “The Utopian City” (duration 23 Min.) will be shown continuously at the exhibition during opening hours. On Sundays borscht will be served in a special Kabakov canteen on the ground floor. An installation consisting of a sixteen-meter “Jacob’s Ladder” bearing a man awaiting an angel will be on display until October 3 2004 nearby at Gutspark Böckel. The Bielefeld exhibition of architectural projects has received the generous support of the Stiftung der Sparkasse Bielefeld and Brocard Parfums. Kunsthaus Zug in Switzerland will show the exhibition in Spring 2005.

Kabakov was born 1933 in Dnepropetrovsk in the former USSR. His father was a locksmith, his mother a book-keeper. Already in 1943 he attended courses at the Leningrad Academy of Arts in Samarkand. Two years later he began professional training in Moscow as a book illustrator. From then on he lived and worked in Moscow, before moving in 1987 to the West, where he now characterises himself as “a witness to a lost civilisation”. Since 1992 he and his wife Emilia, born 1945 and likewise in Dnepropetrovsk, live as U.S. citizens in New York. Their internationally acclaimed work had its first showing at the Hermitage, St. Petersburg, in Summer 2004. The catalogue for that exhibition was also produced by Kunsthalle Bielefeld (€ 40,-).

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