In Conversation: Emilia Kabakov & Achim Borchardt-Hume

Part of The Alan Howard Foundation / JW3 Speaker Series

Arts & Culture

Emilia Kabakov is a Russian-born, American-based artist that collaborates with her husband Ilya 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 the Kabakovs came of age, their work still attains a universal significance.

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 1989.

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 the most important Russian artist 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.

Their work has been shown in such venues as the Museum of Modern Art, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Documenta IX, at the Whitney Biennial in 1997 and the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg among others. In 1993 they represented Russia at the 45th Venice Biennale with their installation The Red Pavilion. The Kabakovs have also completed many important public commissions throughout Europe and have received a number of honors and awards, including the Oscar Kokoschka Preis, Vienna, in 2002 and the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, Paris, in 1995.

The Kabakovs have an upcoming exhibition at the Tate Modern (18 October 2017 – 28 January 2018), in which they explore the theme of failed utopia. Combining the artists’ characteristic use of melancholia, fictional characterisation and humour, the exhibition traces a line from Ilya Kabakov’s early paintings, drawings, albums and installations made in Moscow before his emigration to the West in 1987, to the collaborative projects made with Emilia in America since 1988, including immersive installations and architectural models.

Achim Borchardt-Hume is Director of Exhibitions at Tate Modern. Borchardt-Hume joined Tate Modern as Head of Exhibitions in November 2012. He is the Curator of The EY Exhibition Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy. His recent projects include Robert Rauschenberg, Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture and the first major Malevich retrospective in the UK. Chief Curator of the Whitechapel Gallery from 2009-2012, he curated exhibitions and projects by Zarina Bhimji, Mel Bochner, Giuseppe Penone, Walid Raad and Wilhelm Sasnal.

Previously, Borchardt-Hume was a Curator of Modern and Contemporary art at Tate Modern from 2005-2009 where he curated several exhibitions including Rothko (2008) and Albers and Moholy-Nagy (2006). 

Prior to this, he also held the position of Exhibition Organizer at the Serpentine Gallery and of Acting Head of the Barbican Art Gallery. In 2012, Borchardt-Hume organized Gerhard Richter's first exhibition in Lebanon at the Beirut Art Center. He also contributed to Gerhard Richter: Panorama, the catalogue accompanying the artist's retrospective at Tate Modern in 2011. German-born Borchardt-Hume holds a Ph.D in Art History and Theory from Essex University on art and politics in Fascist Italy.

 

Photo: Hugo Glendinning 2016

Venue

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Add to Calendar 16/10/2017 19:30:00 16/10/2017 19:30:00 In Conversation: Emilia Kabakov & Achim Borchardt-Hume Emilia Kabakov is a Russian-born, American-based artist that collaborates with her husband Ilya 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 the Kabakovs came of age, their work still attains a universal significance. JW3 DD/MM/YYYY

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