Ilya and Emilia Kabakov

The Roundhouse

Ilya Kabakov is a contemporary phenomenon not just because of his originality or the way he, in Chekhovian fashion, constructs a story out of subtle allusions and seemingly insignificant details. Another part of his success is how he manages to reinvent himself and his art with each project. One has come to expect Kabakov to probe the Soviet condition or its legacy—which he willingly does—but with each new installation it is practically impossible to predict how he will transform past experience into art that feels timeless.

The Palace of Projects, 1995–98, a monumental installation and one of the first works Kabakov has coauthored with his wife, Emilia, addresses delusional utopianism as a form of a common dissatisfaction. The work takes the form of a collection of “special projects” that anyone would want to realize in order to have what the Kabakovs call “a worthy human life,”

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