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58th Venice Biennale: May You Live In Interesting Times Ocula Report 58th Venice Biennale: May You Live In Interesting Times 24 May 2019 : Mohammad Salemy for Ocula

The 58th Venice Biennale, May You Live In Interesting Times (11 May–24 November 2019), certainly benefitted from low expectations, given the lacklustre curatorial of the previous edition, when different segments of the show were conceptually framed with titles like 'Pavilion of Joys and Fears' and 'Pavilion of Colours'. Add to this the...

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Zheng Bo Ocula Conversation Zheng Bo

Hong Kong-based artist Zheng Bo's social, ecological, and community-engaged art practice has, in recent years, focused on moving beyond a human-centred perspective to an all-inclusive, multi-species approach. He takes up marginalised plants and communities of people as subjects in his large-scale interventions, which reintroduce wildness into...

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Auckland Art Fair 2019: Conversations Extended Ocula Report Auckland Art Fair 2019: Conversations Extended 24 May 2019 : Sherry Paik for Ocula

The weather was clement for the annual Auckland Art Fair (2–5 May 2019), which was again at The Cloud on Queens Wharf. This year's edition was a get-together of 41 galleries, mostly from around Auckland and across New Zealand, with 5 spaces hailing from Sydney and the rest from Cook Islands (Bergman Gallery), Hobart (Michael Bugelli Gallery),...

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Towards the end of the 1980s, the Russian artist Ilya Kabakov developed a special form of installation that he termed the “total” installation. A member of the Moscow Conceptualists, he transformed the prints and paintings he had produced in the 1960s and 70s into three-dimensional space. In the early 90s, he also began producing this special form of installation both inside and outside of the museum context in collaboration with his wife and fellow artist Emilia Kabakov. The key element of a “total” installation, which Kabakov defines as an “entirely transformed space,” is the specific way in which the exhibition room is transformed and presented in the form of an open stage. The visitors, who play a central role in these installations, often find themselves confronted with a strong narrative structure.
In the installation The White Cube (1993), for example, a white, regular cube occupies most of the exhibition room. No opportunity is provided to look into the cube. Two ladders are set up in front of two opposite walls of the cube. The ladder, a real, functional item, which forms a triangle, contrasts with the strict vertical and horizontal lines of the abstract cube. The installation The White Cube plays with visitor expectations. The ladder in front of the cube initially casts doubt on whether it is part of the installation proper. Is the ladder there to be used? A board standing next to the cube provides user instructions.

In a lecture in 1993, Kabakov described the dramaturgical effect of his installations as follows: In the “total” installation “the viewer, who so far has felt rather free, like he does when viewing paintings or sculpture, finds himself controlled by the installation when he is near one, in a certain sense, he is its victim. But he is simultaneously both a victim and a viewer, who on the one hand surveys and evaluates the installation, and on the other, follows those associations, recollections which arise in him, he is overcome by the intense atmosphere of the total installation.”
With The Flying, (2005–2006), a series of wall carpets, Kabakov refers to the themes of flight and disappearance that characterized much of his early work. An example from Ilya Kabakov’s albums (1972–75) is The Flying Komarov. Looking out from his balcony at dawn, Komarov sees people flying through the air, sometimes alone, sometimes in groups. Finally, he joins them. These early motifs have been taken up in the current work: a single flying figure; a group of people who are holding onto the wings of an airplane; or a family drinking tea while floating in the air. The subject of flight can be interpreted in a metaphysical sense. Flight can also be understood, in the context of the artist’s emigration to the West in the late 1980s, as an expression of his physical distance to and personal memories of the Soviet system.

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Featured Artworks

Two Times Nr. 5 by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov contemporary artwork Ilya and Emilia KabakovTwo Times Nr. 5, 2015 Oil on canvas
287 x 192 x 4 cm

Current Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Unfinished Paintings, Charles Rosenthal at Axel Vervoordt Gallery, Antwerp
Open Now
16 March–31 August 2019 Ilya and Emilia Kabakov Unfinished Paintings, Charles Rosenthal Axel Vervoordt Gallery, Antwerp

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In Ocula Magazine

Ilya And Emilia Kabakov Ocula Conversation Ilya And Emilia Kabakov Artists, Russia

In 2014, Monumenta’s sixth edition was presided over by Russian-born artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov. Celebrated internationally for their large-scale projects and ambitious installations, the Kabakovs used the invitation by Jean Paul Cluzel, president of the RMN, (the Réunion des Musées Nationaux), who oversee the commission and...

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In Related Press

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Ilya Kabakov Harnesses His Inner Misanthrope to Maintain Artistic Independence Related Press Ilya Kabakov Harnesses His Inner Misanthrope to Maintain Artistic Independence Hyperallergic : 22 February 2019

On Art, a new collection of essays by Ilya Kabakov, recently translated and edited into English by Matthew Jesse Jackson, begs a closer look at the life of an artist in permanent flux.One reason Ilya Kabakov's decades-long career is so interesting is that it maps with cartographic intensity life under a broken Soviet system, later transformed by...

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Ilya and Emilia Kabakov to Show Rarely Seen ‘Whimsical Models’ at the Hirshhorn Museum Related Press Ilya and Emilia Kabakov to Show Rarely Seen ‘Whimsical Models’ at the Hirshhorn Museum ARTnews : 18 May 2017

Maquettes for enigmatic installations and architectural imaginings by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov will appear in a rare communal display this fall in Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Utopian Projects at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. Focusing on 22 'whimsical models' for works (and ideas for works as yet unrealized) dating back...

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10 Places to See Public Art in 2017 Related Press 10 Places to See Public Art in 2017 The New York Times : 26 January 2017

Redwood City, CaliforniaA benevolent pirate ship is about to settle in Redwood City, thanks to the curator Lance Fung. Instead of looters, the artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov’s large-scale boat installation (with the word 'IMAGINE' nearby) will bring a new emphasis on public art to the area. Fung — who is best known for curating a show of...

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Parcours: 19 site-specific artworks installed around Münsterhügel, the heart of Basel’s old town Related Press Parcours: 19 site-specific artworks installed around Münsterhügel, the heart of Basel’s old town e-flux : 7 June 2016

The 2016 edition of Parcours will be sited in the historical center of Basel around the city’s iconic cathedral, inhabiting locations such as the cathedral’s chapel, Münsterplatz, the Museum of Culture, an underground tunnel below the Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois and historic locations along the river Rhine. Curated for the first time by...

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