Not Everyone Will Be Taken Into the Future
The exhibition named so by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, the creators of the “total installation” genre and a couple who rank among the most celebrated contemporary international artists, is now taking place at the Hermitage. It was open just a few days ago on April 21 and will last till July 29, 2018 at The General Staff Building just across the Palace square from the Winter Palace. Emilia Kabakov, who was present at the opening ceremony in the General Staff building, stated: “Ilya is very happy as the exhibition has turned out to be tremendous. For us it is a great honour to be in the Hermitage. There are very few museums that show contemporary art in this way. If you are lucky, you’ll be taken into the future and be exhibited in the Hermitage.” This exhibition is definitely a must to see for anyone interested in contemporary art and perception of Soviet communal past.
Ilya Kabakov is a very major figure in Moscow Conceptualism, a member of the late generation of Soviet artists to have won worldwide recognition. He is famous for the creation of a new genre – the total installation, in which the work is not an individual object, but an entire integral space, within which viewers find themselves. In their works, the creative tandem of Ilya and Emilia Kabakov mythologize routine, everyday communal existence in the Soviet Union. The personages of their creations are romantics and forgotten artists – dreamers who live in the prosaic conditions of Soviet daily reality. The retrospective exhibition is intended to demonstrate the formation of the artist’s creative method and its evolution through the examples of installations, architectural models, paintings and works of graphic art.
This large-scale project is the result of collaboration between the State Hermitage, the Tretyakov Gallery and the Tate Gallery London. It presents more than 100 works from art museums and private collections in Russia, Europe and the USA. “Not Everyone will be Taken into the Future” was an essay by Ilya Kabakov published in 1983 in the Paris-based magazine of non-conformist Russian art A–Ya. In it Kabakov reflected on the charismatic role of Kazimir Malevich, who carried a whole generation of Russian artists off after him into the future, and recalled his own personal experience from art school, where the children with the best marks were rewarded with a trip to a pioneer camp, while those who lagged behind were deprived of any chance of creative self-realization in the future. The essay ends with the thought that in just the same way the contemporary world records the names of some figures in the history of art, while others are consigned to oblivion.In the 2001 installation with the same title, a train leaving a stop carries away those fortunate enough to have a place in the future, while the works scattered on the platform are a reminder of those who got left behind, who will be forgotten in the future. While the world is obsessed with suiting the present moment, Kabakov asks what will happen to art in the future. The demand to “live in the moment” suppresses concern about the subsequent fate of art in the minds of people today. Each decides in his own way the dilemma of what is more important: to have your achievements understood and appreciated today or for them to find a place in tomorrow’s world.
Ilya and Emilia Kabakov have exhibited more than once at the Hermitage. In 2005 there was “An Incident in the Museum and Other Installations” and in 2013 “Utopia and Reality. El Lissitzky, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov”. The Hermitage has a Kabakovs Hall, where the display includes, among other things, two celebrated installations, Cupboard and Toilet, while The Red Wagon, a generous gift from the artists is an iconic element of the permanent display in the General Staff building. It is pleasant that the Kabakovs’ art in particular has provided three famous museums – the Tate Gallery, Treyakov Gallery and Hermitage – with the opportunity to create a joint exhibition.”In 2004 the first major exhibition of the Kabakovs’ works in Russia “Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: An Incident in the Museum and Other Installations” was held successfully in the General Staff building, signalling the artists’ return to their homeland after their departure abroad in 1973/88. The exhibition was organized by the State Hermitage in conjunction with the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Stella Art Gallery, Moscow. In 2013, as part of a cross-cultural year between Russia and the Netherlands, the Winter Palace became the venue for the exhibition “Utopia and Reality. El Lissitzky, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov” arranged by the State Hermitage in collaboration with the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven.“The exhibition ‘Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Not Everyone will be Taken into the Future’ in the State Hermitage is the couple’s first full-scale retrospective in Russia. For FGC UES participation in this project is important as it provides the Russian public with the opportunity to become acquainted with the oeuvre of some of the best exponents of contemporary art, including works that are kept abroad and in private collections,” Andrei Murov, chairman of the board of FGC UES, said.The exhibition has already had a successful run at the Tate Modern in London. After it closes at the Hermitage, the exhibition will move on to the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow (6 September 2018 – 13 January 2019).