Station: [9] Ilya Kabakov

This wooden shed was built by the Russian artist Ilya Kabakov. The installation is called My Grandfather's Shed. It’s a simple outbuilding of a type that is doubtless very common in Kabakov's home country. The structure, and the work’s conciliatory title, immediately evoke images of a rural Russian idyll. Inside the shed, we encounter a follow-up to this supposedly ideal world.

A small-scale installation under a simple wooden stool catches the eye. We find ourselves looking at a miniature landscape. Individual houses and a small church line the banks of a gently meandering river. A tiny white angel hovers above the scene. This miniature world is illuminated by an ordinary light bulb.

The ideal image presented by My Grandfather's Shed is visibly fractured. Nothing really matches. The divine light is a common light bulb. The model landscape doesn’t work as a utopian image conveying an idyllic sense of home. There’s not even a grandfather who’s just put his tools in the shed. The bogus “facts” and false pretences seem absurd, while the proportions make the situation appear comical, as if we’re seeing something being debunked.

Ilya Kabakov now lives in New York. He was born in Ukraine, and for many years had no choice but to comply with the artistic doctrine of the former Soviet Union. In his work, he confronts political censorship critically and with irony. Ilya Kabakov was awarded the Kaiserring in 1998.


Foto 1: © Mönchehaus Museum Goslar

Foto 2: © Sascha Engel, Goslar