The Underground Russian Artists Who Evaded the KGB
The installation "Fallen Sky" represents the idea of heaven on earth. In true Kabakov manner, one of course ecounters a poetic dimension as well: At some time in the past, a Soviet pilot lived in a penthouse. In memory of his profession, the pilot had painted his penthouse to resemble the sky. A storm blew and swept away this rather flmsy structure, including the ceiling of his room, which flew above entire countries and finally crashed, cutting into the ground, at this very spot in Abu Dhabi. The bronze plaque and the etched letters are intended to convince the viewer that this incident actually occurred.
Various aspects are touched upon here, the absence of an artistic object, for example, means that the viewer must think about whether the episode "really" happened. Otherwise, what he sees is simply an installation, but he must still reflect on why the piece of sky is situated here, what it signifies in these particular surroundings. The Kabakovs play with these different layers of meaning and suggestion in order to question, confuse and amuse the spectator.
Image rights: courtesy the artist and Galerie Brigitte Schenk
Abu Dhabi Art 2010
Husband and wife Ilya and Emilia Kabokov have developed an international reputation for creating deeply evocative works that reflect on the socioeconomics of the late Soviet Union. Their projects entail multiple stages of planning, often accompanied by a host of preparatory diagrams and sketches, as with The Red Wagon (1991), a large-scale experiential installation meant to reflect the closed-off, circular, and frustrating nature of the Russian government. “[The viewer] is to fail in the effort to reach the heaven, then live through period of frustrating and fruitless anticipation—only to find himself standing in heaps of rubbish and junk at the end of the road,” they have said about the work. The pair’s practice together has continually explored how people relate to oppression, isolation, and other forms of adversity, and has been compared to that of constructivist artists El Lissitzky and Alexander Rodchenko, who each used their art to reflect upon Soviet politics and culture.
Russian, 1933 and 1945, Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, based in Long Island, New York