The Empty Museum, Ilya Kabakov

Ilya Kabakov, The Empty Museum [O Museu Vazio], Sculpture Center, Long Island, Nova Iorque, 2004


The Empty Museum is a room-sized installation that makes the exhibition space itself an object of our contemplation. The Empty Museum perfectly replicates a painting gallery in a classical museum with dark red walls, wood moldings, and benches for quiet contemplation. On the walls, where one would expect paintings to hang, are pools of light, as if the paintings had just recently been removed. Bach’s Passacaglia, written for the organ, resounds loudly. An ambiguous state of construction or demise presides, but the overall effect is one of calm and contemplation. The replacement of paintings by music and light draws connections between the space of the museum, the concert hall, and the cathedral. As with many Kabakov installations, the room functions metaphorically as both a manifestation of social institutions and a container within which imagination and creativity endure. Taking the museum as metaphor, the work invites us to reconsider the status of the work of art and the institutions that house it. Known as the leading figure of the Russian art movement of the 1980s known as ‘Moscow Conceptualism’ Ilya Kabakov, is considered one of the most important artists of his generation. His “total installations” have depicted the gloomy bureaucratic and communal environments of Soviet life while celebrating the survival and strength of the human spirit. Although often times melancholic, these are spaces that tell stories of poetic innocence and fleeting contradictions; places where longing coexists with imagination. /


Ilya Kabakov (Dnipropetrovsk, República Socialista Soviética da Ucrânia, 1933) artista…


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