Questionnaire: Ilya & Emilia Kabakov

Q: What do you like the look of? A: Water, always, in any weather. Calm, stormy, in the morning, at sunset, even at night.

web_p13068_p-cmyk.jpg

Roni Horn, Untitled from the series 'Still Water (The River Thames, For Example)', 1999, lithograph on paper, 77 x 105 cm. Courtesy: American Acquisitions Committee 2005 © Tate, London 2017

Roni Horn, Untitled from the series 'Still Water (The River Thames, For Example)', 1999, lithograph on paper, 77 x 105 cm. Courtesy: American Acquisitions Committee 2005 © Tate, London 2017

What images keep you company in the space where you work?
EMILIA KABAKOV: We mainly are surrounded by paintings that are works-in-progress. But we do have one picture: Talisman by the Ethiopian artist Gedewon. He made it for me 20 years ago and it is absolutely beautiful and magical. I cannot live without this work and I do feel protected by it.

What was the first piece of art that really mattered to you?
It wasn’t a particular artwork so much as the atmosphere of the museum. The sacred feeling of a temple you felt the moment you entered. It stays with you forever.

If you could live with only one piece of art what would it be?
Why do we have to choose?

What is your favourite title of an artwork?
This is a really strange question but that said, How to Meet an Angel (2003), one of our own works, is the best.

What do you wish you knew?
Everything that’s possible or impossible to know.

What should change?
Too many things to mention, especially people’s ability to be compassionate towards other human beings, being more tolerant to each other and more protective of children, mothers and older people.

What should stay the same?
Culture.

What could you imagine doing if you didn’t do what you do?
Being a musician: I think this goes for both of us. Ilya wants to play violin and I still dream of being a pianist.

What music are you listening to?
Classical, romantic, country and the music I can hear even when it’s not playing: the music of the wind and water and the music of silence.

What are you reading?
Ilya reads Russian history, classical literature, poetry and biographies. I read poetry, romance and historical novels, detective stories, art articles and art history.

What do you like the look of?
Water, always, in any weather. Calm, stormy, in the morning, at sunset, even at night.

What is art for?
Art, music and literature are the things that make – and keep – us human.

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov live in Long Island, USA. Their solo exhibition at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, USA, runs until 4 March 2018. Their retrospective at Tate Modern, London, UK, runs from 18 October until 28 January; it will then travel to the Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia, and the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia. Their concurrent solo shows at Thaddeus Ropac Gallery in London and Paris, France, will open this month. 

Issue 190

First published in Issue 190

October 2017

Most Read

In further news: Glasgow School of Art to be rebuilt; Philadelphia Museum of Art gets a Frank Gehry-designed restaurant
Highlights from Condo New York 2018 and Commonwealth and Council at 47 Canal: the summer shows to see
Knussen’s music laid out each component as ‘precarious, vulnerable, exposed’ – and his conducting similarly worked from...
Nods to the game in World Cup celebrations show how dance has gone viral – but unwittingly instrumentalized for...
‘You can’t reason with him but you can ridicule him’ – lightweight as it is, Trump Baby is a win for art as a...
Anderson and partner Juman Malouf are sorting through the treasures of the celebrated Kunsthistorisches Museum for...
From Capote to Basquiat, the pop artist’s glittering ‘visual diary’ of the last years of his life is seen for the first...
‘When I opened Monika Sprüth Galerie, only very few German gallerists represented women artists’
Can a ragtag cluster of artists, curators and critics really push back against our ‘bare’ art world?
In further news: German government buys Giambologna at the eleventh hour; LACMA’s new expansion delayed
Gucci and Frieze present film number two in the Second Summer of Love series, focusing on the history of acid house
Judges described the gallery’s GBP£20 million redevelopment by Jamie Fobert Architects as ‘deeply intelligent’ and a ‘...
Is the lack of social mobility in the arts due to a self-congratulatory conviction that the sector represents the...
The controversial intellectual suggests art would be better done at home – she should be careful what she wishes for
Previously unheard music on Both Directions At Once includes blues as imposing as the saxophonist would ever record
In further news: Macron reconsiders artist residencies; British Council accused of censorship; V&A to host largest...
In our devotion to computation and its predictive capabilities are we rushing blindly towards our own demise?
Arts subjects are increasingly marginalized in the UK curriculum – but the controversial intellectual suggests art is...
An exhibition of performances at Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw, unfolds the rituals of sexual encounters
An art historian explains what the Carters’s takeover of the Paris museum says about art, race and power
Artist Andrea Fraser’s 2016 in Museums, Money and Politics lifts the lid on US museum board members and...
The Ruhrtriennale arts festival disinvited the Scottish hip-hop trio for their pro-Palestinian politics, then u-turned
The Baltimore’s director on why correcting the art historical canon is not only right but urgent for museums to remain...
Serpentine swimmers complain about Christo’s floating pyramid; and Hermitage’s psychic cat is a World Cup oracle: the...
The largest mural in Europe by the artist has been hidden for 30 years in an old storage depot – until now
Alumni Martin Boyce, Karla Black, Duncan Campbell and Ciara Phillips on the past and future of Charles Rennie...
In further news: po-mo architecture in the UK gets heritage status; Kassel to buy Olu Oguibe’s monument to refugees
The frieze columnist's first novel is an homage to, and embodiment of, the late, great Kathy Acker
60 years after the celebrated Brutalist architect fell foul of local authorities, a Berlin Unité d’Habitation apartment...
The British artist and Turner Prize winner is taking on the gun advocacy group at a time of renewed debate around arms...
The central thrust of the exhibition positions Sicily as the fulcrum of geopolitical conflicts over migration, trade,...
The Carters’s museum takeover powers through art history’s greatest hits – with a serious message about how the canon...
The 20-metre-high Mastaba finally realizes the artist and his late wife Jeanne-Claude’s design
‘What is being exhibited at Manifesta, above all, is Palermo itself’
With the 12th edition of the itinerant European biennial opening in Palermo, what do local artists, curators and...
In the age of Brexit, why Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to return the ‘stolen’ Parthenon marbles has never been...
The curators seem set to ask, ‘how civilized is the world’s current state of affairs?’
US true crime series Unsolved takes two formative pop cultural events to explore their concealed human stories and...

On View

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

April 2018

frieze magazine

May 2018

frieze magazine

June - August 2018