Lissitzky – Kabakov, stage 3
The exhibition just needs to be finished…
Uit de keuken van de curator

Lissitzky – Kabakov, stage 3

13/09/2013

The schedule for the installation of the exhibition Lissitzky – Kabakov in the Multimedia Art Museum Moscow (MAMM) is very tight. We at the Van Abbemuseum have said repeatedly that we do not think it’s possible to install this show in six days, even if you work around the clock with two dayshifts and a nightshift. But they are not a little cocky in Moscow; they will try it anyway. If I remember right what Ilya Kabakov once said about the creative concept, this installation process becomes an even greater mystery: “In any creative concept there are three components: the project, the attempt at realisation and the finished product. It should be said that the person involved at the beginning, the planner, has no idea what will happen midway through the process, or how it will end.” Of course he is right in the sense that we cannot overlook the whole creative process at the start. But I would say that means planning some extra time and reserving some extra money for the unexpected. And certainly not to try and do it in less than a week. Anyway: I am off to Moscow with new adventures ahead. I will be part of a very local rush, a creative race against the clock.

‘Propki’ is a nice Russian word for a lot of nuisance: traffic jam. I spent two hours in a car going from the Sheremetyevo airport to Moscow. It is nice that they send a car to pick you up but the train shuttle would have got me there in just half an hour. I tried to sleep next to the driver, but of course that is impossible with all the sudden movements in a row of cars all trying to be the first ahead. So I finally arrived quite exhausted, but glad anyway, because of the good hotel they had chosen for me. It’s near the museum and very convenient. I will say nothing of the design because when you start discussing design and interior decoration of hotels you will end up nowhere. Even Philippe Starck did not succeed in this difficult task. Let’s just say that they managed to meet general taste. And – very important – I can sleep on a good mattress. Finally.

There they are! So good to see them again! Always together, always working. Ilya and Emilia Kabakov are already here for a while. They realized a new version of the ‘Ship of Tolerance Project’ in Moscow and a concert for young musicians a few days ago and now they are starting to work on the exhibition. I thought the museum here would install the Lissitzky part of the exhibition just as they did in the Hermitage, but the first thing Ilya asks me is if I want to do it. That is quite an unexpected question for me. It means skipping a few appointments and group meetings, not seeing a lot of exhibitions and working late until the opening on Monday. But on the other hand it is quite a challenge. So I immediately decided to take this task upon me and find out which works will go where. But I really want Ilya to look over my shoulder and he is very happy to do that. We walk through all the exhibition rooms, discuss the concept and then we go for lunch to a good Italian restaurant. They call it ‘osteria’ but it is much better than that and much more expensive. The ossobuco Milanese with risotto is delicious.  When I come back I see the leftovers of the lunch of some of the workmen from Kazachstan and I feel ashamed of our luxury…

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, but there is lunch and lunch…