“For Kabakov and his friends, it was not dissident struggle against state censorship that defined their lives so much as a perpetual labor to interpret officialness correctly, to determine which limits were flexible, which more stringent.” (Matthew Jesse Jackson, The Experimental Group, p.77)
Archive for September, 2010
The Experimental Group: Ilya Kabakov, Moscow Conceptualism, Soviet Avant-Gardes by Matthew Jesse Jackson
In 1989, while in Paris, I saw the exhibition, Magiciens de la Terre at the Centre Georges Pompidou where I literally stumbled across Ilya Kabakov’s installation, The Man Who Flew into Space from his Apartment. I was stunned. I had never been taken by surprise in quite this way and it stayed with me. In the following years I made several pieces about the experience including He Came from Out of Town, a page in this hand-made book.
In 2003 my son happened to be at the California College of the Arts studying with art historian, Matthew Jesse Jackson while Jackson was working on a book about Kabakov. That book has just been published. I’m reading my son’s copy, which I’ve pilfered. Great stuff: Post-Stalin Russian artists working their way through and away from Modernism. Kabakov’s earnest sincerity in trying to paint The Masterpiece for four years. “Kabakov was passionate about trying to paint this painting and then one day he decided it was shit, and just threw it away.” (Erik Bulatov quoted in the book, p.31) …”Kabakov would not make this mistake again. In the future, his work would dwell long and productively in the regions outside high art.” (The Experimental Group by Matthew Jesse Jackson, University of Chicago Press 2010. p.32)
It occurs to me that much of the work I like draws me away from the practice of painting. In the studio today (where I am once again making my little paintings) I wrote, “shape, fence-painting, color, landscape,” with a sort-of vague hope that this means something. It seems like I’ve come to the conclusion a million times that my own earnest attempt at making “abstract narrative landscapes” is a rehash of abstract expressionism and basically shit. And then there is this 24hour/Red Carnations project in the back of my head and I wasn’t even there for the revolution and the technology is precarious. Still I can picture a completely out of control mass of images all going at the same time and I want to make it.