In Water Mill: “How to Meet an Angel”

A utopian vision by renowned Mattituck artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov will grace the wall of the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill on Saturday, Sept. 12.

From 8:30 to 10:30 p.m., the museum will present “How to Meet an Angel,” a one-minute looped animation.

“An encounter with your angel in real life appears to be virtually impossible. But this is far from the truth. All that is necessary is to recall that this encounter can take place in extreme circumstances, and, especially at critical moments in a person’s life. It is within our powers to create the situation for such an encounter,” say Ilya and Emilia Kabakov.

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov are Russian-born, American-based artists who collaborate on environments which fuse elements of the everyday with those of the conceptual. While their work is deeply rooted in the Soviet social and cultural context in which they came of age, their work attains a universal significance.

The artists’ vision was to erect a very tall ladder—1100 meters (3600 feet) high—shooting vertically up into a large, empty space, ideally in a distant, rural place.

“Today’s materials permit the creation of such a structure with the necessary durability and stability,” say the artists. “A person who has resolved to ascend to the top of the ladder should be prepared to spend more than two days to do so. However, once he is near the top, he finds himself high above the clouds, alone within conditions of wind and inclement weather; that crisis moment when, upon the request for urgent help, the appearance of an angel will turn out to be inevitable.”

The animation of How to Meet an Angel came about two years ago, when the Kabakovs were invited by the Tchoban Foundation, Museum for Architectural Drawing, Berlin, to do an exhibition of their architectural projects, including drawings and models. They created the animation from the original drawings of the sculpture, and it was projected on the façade of the museum.

Ilya Kabakov was born in Dnepropetrovsk, Soviet Union, in 1933. He studied at the VA Surikov Art Academy in Moscow, and began his career as a children’s book illustrator during the 1950’s. He was part of a group of conceptual artists in Moscow who worked outside the official Soviet art system. In 1985 he received his first solo show exhibition at Dina Vierny Gallery, Paris, and he moved to the West two years later taking up a six months residency at Kunstverein Graz, Austria. 

In 1988, Kabakov began working with his future wife Emilia (they were to be married in 1992). From this point onwards, all their work was collaborative, in different proportions according to the specific project involved. 

Today Kabakov is recognized as one of the most important Russian artists to have emerged in the late 20th Century. His installations speak as much about conditions in post-Stalinist Russia as they do about the human condition universally.

Emilia Kabakov (née Lekach) was born in Dnepropetrovsk, Soviet Union, in 1945. She attended the Music College in Irkutsk, in addition to studying Spanish language and literature at the Moscow University. She immigrated to Israel in 1973, and moved to New York in 1975, where she worked as a curator and art dealer.  Emilia has worked side by side with Ilya since 1988.

This unique drive-by experience is visible on the south side of the museum, with limited access for guests to park and watch the projections from the Parrish grounds at 279 Montauk Highway. The rain date will be on Sunday, Sept. 13.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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