16 Ropes

Concept drawing, 1995, 22,8 x 30,4 cm, signed and dated bottom right

YEAR: 1984

CATALOGUE NUMBER: 4

PROVENANCE

The artist

1993, The artist, Moscow studio, Moscow.

1993, Collection Fondation Dina Vierny, Paris

The Communal Kitchen, Catalog No 48.

EXHIBITIONS

Galerie de la Vieille Charité, Marseille
Ilya Kabakov: En marge 18 Jan 1986 — 2 Mar 1986

Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf
Ilya Kabakov. Am Rande 6 Jun 1986 — 3 Aug 1986

Centre National des Arts Plastiques, Paris
Kabakov 19 Nov 1986 — 11 Jan 1987

Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York
Ten Characters 30 Apr 1988 — 4 Jun 1988

DESCRIPTION

The hall is a closed dwelling, square in layout, with windows located high above. Or there are none at all. The length and width of the walls of the hall are 10 meters. Sixteen ropes are stretched between the walls of the hall horizontally and parallel to one another at eye level, i.e. approximately 168 cm. so that together they form a single horizontal surface. The distance between the stretched ropes is 42 cm. All kinds of ‘garbage’ fragments are hung from fine strings on each of the ropes at intervals of 12-15 cm: a cork, the top of a can, an empty matchbox, etc., and to each of these, in turn, are attached from below white labels with texts on both sides. All of the hanging garbage forms, and from the outside looks like, a unique sea in which the viewer can submerge, if he makes the effort to go between these rows, taking in hand the labels and reading the texts written on them. But then he will wind up in yet another sea, this time a verbal one. All of the texts consist of phrases, and not even of phrases but of scraps of them. This is everyday, ordinary noise, pieces of non-individualized speech which could belong to ‘each and every person.’

ARTIST`S COMMENTS

From earliest childhood one and the same feeling, or rather two feelings, has lived in me completely united: I am just like everyone else, but in some regard, I am completely, terribly different.

This split is located in me on two levels. There, the place where I am ‘like everyone else’ is located up above, on the surface. The ‘I’ that is secluded, closed, is down below. The first is on the outside, there, where I touch, enter into, and participate in the external world.

The second is inside, hidden from everyone. The first lives function along with everyone else; it continually says what everyone says. The second judges, disdain, the other, the upper one. In the first, the strongest feeling acting likes an imperative under the threat of punishment to behave yourself among others so as not to stand out from them in any way! Be like everyone else, move like ‘them,’ sit like ‘them,’ open and close doors like ‘them,’ be unnoticeable and indistinguishable like each of ‘them’, but the main thing – talk like all of ‘them’ talk! (Because everyone pays attention to speech and can quickly determine who is who can quickly find out who is hiding behind what and who is hiding what.) Speech is many times more revealing than clothing or behavior. It must be strictly and precisely controlled, and insofar as possible, it should not be distinguishable from the speech around it. But after all, my interaction with others becomes possible only when I speak on the same plane with others, when I say what they say, and when I will tell them only what they expect.

And now we are ‘interacting,’ everyone at the same time, everything as one. It is not important that when I am speaking, no one listens to me and everyone just waits for me to stop – to say a phrase in their own turn, which I, too, will not particularly care about. What is important is that contact has emerged, exists; we are standing next to each other, we are not afraid of one another, everything is going on ‘normally’ between us. We attain a unity. My neighbor and I find a commonality, and we, which is especially important, enter into a similar commonality with everyone else, too. Through this speech we are connected to ‘our entire world’ – for we know, we ‘hear,’ everyone speaks like this.

I am delivered from my loneliness. No one is whining in me anymore, no one is moaning, contorting, suffering. What happiness it is to calm down, to become quiet, to be together with others, to become ‘like everyone’ and to muffle the voice resounding inside you so that it cannot be heard at all.

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