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Emilia Kabakov, b.1945, Ilya Kabakov, b.1933

The Mysterious Exhibition from the Children’s Hospital1998

After spending some thirty years as an unofficial artist behind the Iron Curtain, Ilya Kabakov first came to the attention of the West in the 1980s. Today Kabakov, who is known as ‘The father of Moscow Conceptualism’, is seen to be one of the most important Russian artists to have emerged in the late 20th century. Alternating between light-hearted irony and genuine tragedy, Kabakov’s work often evokes a shadowy world in which fable-like miracles might occur.

Together with his wife Emilia, Kabakov has created installations which imaginatively transform a given space in a way that requires the visitor’s total involvement. Now living in the West, the Kabakovs’ earlier concern with individual freedom in a totalitarian context has developed into a wider concern about the mental and psychological well being of the individual in an unfriendly environment. In their work, the key to health is the imagination.
The ‘Mysterious Exhibition’ is one of two rooms from an installation owned by the Museum. These rooms were purchased from a larger installation, ‘The Children’s Hospital’, a project specifically created for the Museum in 1998 and inspired by the previous history of the building as a hospital for retired soldiers. In this work, little mechanical theatrical dramas invite the child patient to interact in a creative way by completing or adding to the story himself/herself. In this way, children could exchange their theatres with other children in the ward allowing them to benefit therapeutically from the imaginative transformation of their often bleak, enclosed environment.

MediumHospital bed, two chairs, bedside lockers, miniature theatre, two tables, curtain and four wooden dowels
DimensionsDimensions variable
Credit LineIMMA Collection: Purchase, 1999
Item NumberIMMA.842
Image Caption
Emilia Kabakov, Ilya Kabakov, The Mysterious Exhibition from the Children’s Hospital, 1998, Hospital bed, two chairs, bedside lockers, miniature theatre, two tables, curtain and four wooden dowels, Dimensions variable, Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art, Purchase, 1999

For copyright information, please contact the IMMA Collections team: [email protected].

Ilya Kabakov

Ilya Kabakov b.1933

Ilya Kabakov is one of the most influential artists to have emerged from the former Soviet Union. Since his move to the West in 1987 he has become a leading figure in installation art. Kabakov’s practice combines drawings, paintings and found objects to form complex installations which reflect the social, historical and political forces which have shaped his life and work. He has created installations in venues worldwide including MoMA, New York, the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington and the Pompidou Centre, Paris. Together with his wife Emilia, Kabakov created a large site specific installation at IMMA in 1999.
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