Box with Garbage


YEAR: 1986



The artist

Version 1

First realized 1986 in the Moscow studio.

Collection Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, 1995.

Version 2

First realized 1986 in the Moscow studio.

Collection State Museum Tsaritsyno, Moscow, since 1995.


Version 1

The Rope of Life and Other Installations, Fred Hoffman Gallery, Santa Monica, 13 January – 10 February 1990.

In de ussr en erbuiten, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 22 September – 4 November 1990.

Since 1995 part of No 87 The Rope of Life and Other Installations.

See N0 7, 8, 32, 87.

Version 2

Kunst im Verborgenen – Nonkonformisten Rußland 1957 – 1995, Wilhelm-Hack-Museum,

Ludwigshafen, 4 March – 23 April 1995;

Documenta-Halle, Kassel, 7 May – 18 June 1995;

Staatliches Lindenau-Museum, Altenburg, 2 July – 3 September 1995.


In a large dwelling (25 x 15 meters) with white walls and overhead light, the floor is entirely covered with white strips of paper, as though it is being prepared for impending repairs. And the repairs have already begun. A thin black stripe has been drawn along the walls, dividing them into an upper and lower part. The top part should remain white, whereas the lower part should be painted using brown paint that is ready in a large barrel next to the ladder, near brushes and other painter’s accessories … A part of the wall has already been painted, but the work has been stopped for some reason.

In the middle of this white space is an old wooden crate full of all kinds of objects that no one needs anymore: dilapidated boots, broken bottles, torn boxes, etc. The lid is leaning up against the crate on one side, and there is a chair on the other side, just as old and dilapidated as the crate. Some of the things from the crate are lying next to it on the floor. It’s as though the chair is inviting the viewer to sit down, pick up and carefully examine things, transferring them from the crate to the floor, its entire ‘priceless’ contents. The small paper labels attached to each of the items of garbage also invite one to do this. But as soon as the viewer picks up some objects and reads the text, he receives a burning insult addressed to him, a malicious order to put the thing back in its place and to ‘get out of here.’ If you try to examine the entire crate to the end, you find that each thing swears, growls, expels curses.

A text glued to a piece of cardboard is lying on the floor near the crate.


“Please, don’t bother me!”

Where does this constant desire in me to vanish, to hide, come from? Where is this from? It seems it’s not really difficult to explain. I have been living in dormitories since I was 10 years old: at first, it was a boarding house at the art school, then the dormitory of the art institute. I don’t remember being alone in all those years, not even once. I was never left alone by myself in an empty room.

High-strung to the limit, attentively observing others so as not to make a mistake either in word or in deed; cheerful, sociable, soft, benevolent on the outside; suppressed, scared, known by no one on the inside, neither myself nor by others…

There are 30-40 people surrounding each of us from morning until night and even all night long. There are 8-10 people in a bedroom (this was in the boarding school), 23-26 in the institute dormitory, and everyone in one room – bed to bed separated only by nightstands and narrow passageways. There are noise and a multitude of voices simultaneously; someone has already gotten up and is eating, someone is already sleeping, there is no difference between day and night. You can fall asleep only if you cover your head with the blanket: there is light coming from two light bulbs hanging from the ceiling almost all night long… There is boiling desperation, a mixture of anguish and agitation all the time, but when you are addressed, you‘re supposed to answer cheerfully, friendly, and even joyfully, while all the while there is an internal howl: “All of you, just leave me in peace!”

But I hear clearly and can distinguish that very same howl coming from inside those who surround me: “You leave me alone, too; get out of here, and don’t touch me!” Our tongues are incessantly using foul language, and our normal speech with one another is full of cursing.

All of us – like a pack of people tortured by one another, unable to get rid of one another, similar to one another by a common fate – are in the same situation. Each of us externally and internally is debris, a scrap of something, some sort of fragment which has not found any use for itself or else has lost it…

And I, just like each of us – or else it only seems that way to me – felt like a flat, crumpled crate, flattened and lying on the floor… And if I am even touched slightly, all I can do is to let out a single howl, to hiss, to shout: “Don’t touch! Put it back! Get away from me, you vermin, you scum! Leave me alone! What do you want from me!?”



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1986Megan BartonComment