The Underground Russian Artists Who Evaded the KGB
Husband-and-wife duo Ilya and Emilia Kabokov have developed an international reputation for creating deeply evocative works reflecting on the socioeconomic complexities of the late Soviet Union. This work on paper addresses ideas of tolerance and the importance of education, invoking the themes of their major community project The Ship of Tolerance in Brooklyn Bridge Park last year.
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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