Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Absurdities as Absurd as Reality
by Joyce Beckenstein
“They’re like spies everywhere, filming everything,” Ilya Kabakov grouses to his wife, Emilia. He’s jokingly dissing the ubiquitous film crew—not the KGB of years ago bugging his rooftop Moscow studio. She flashes a knowing smile, then hits her cell phone buttons; there’s a snag to fix in one of the biggest art events that Russia has ever seen, a 2008 celebration of the artists at multiple venues throughout Moscow. This snippet from Amei Wallach’s 2013 documentary, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Enter Here, captures the instantaneous ESP between the reclusive man anointed the world’s greatest living Russian artist and his daunting wife/collaborator. IK, unable to exhibit his works during the 55 years he lived in the Soviet Union, became an immediate international presence when he emigrated to the West. Since 1992, his early works have evolved into a collaborative vision, Dostoyevskian in breadth, Michelangelesque in scale—a global stage where human frailties play out in utopian-inspired spaces...see the entire article in the print version of July/August's Sculpture magazine.
Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Manas, 2007. Mixed media, view of installation at the Venice Biennale.