Concert for a Fly (Chamber Music)


YEAR: 1986



The artist

Mar 2016, Brigitte Schenk Gallery, Cologne, Germany, On loan to the gallery for the Art Fair, Cologne, 2016

Version 1

Collection Martin and Ursula von Walterskirchen, Bern.


Version 1

Neue Galerie, Schlössli Götzental, Dierikon, Lucerne Switzerland
Ilya Kabakov. Rauminstallationen und Bildwerke aus den 80er Jahren, 15 August – 3 September 1986

Neue Galerie, Schlössli Götzental, Dierikon, Lucerne Switzerland
Kabakov – Piwowarow, 19 June – 10 July 1988

Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel, Switzerland
Ilya Kabakov – Ein Meer von Stimmen, 13 August – 12 November 1995

Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, Germany
Ilya Kabakov. Der Lesesaal – Bilder, Leporellos und Zeichnungen, 19 April – 28 Jule 1996 (as part of No 90, The Reading Room)

See No 90.

Version 2

Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art, Cleveland, OH, USA
Urban Evidence: Contemporary Artists Reveal Cleveland, 25 August – 27 October 1996

Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, Germany
Ilya Kabakov. Das Leben der Fliegen, 2 February – 29 March 1992 (as part of No 56, The Life of Flies)

Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York, NY, USA
Ilya Kabakov. The Life of Flies, 1 March – 5 April 1997 (as part of No 56, The Life of Flies)

Hay-Art Cultural Center – Yerevan, Armenia
Triennial of Contemporary Art in Armenia, 21 Jul 2017 –  30 Sep 2017

London, England, United Kingdom, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac – London Ely House
Concert for a Fly (Chamber Music) 15 Sep 2017 — 11 Nov 2017

Paris, France, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac
Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Musique de Chambre, 2 Dec 2017 – 24 Feb 2018

See No 56.


In a small square room is a closed circle of 12 music stands. There is a chair behind each one. Everything is ready for a chamber concert. On the music stands, there are gray pages of cardboard containing pictures on the top part and text on the lower. To the side of the page at the bottom of the stand lies a page with notes and an English translation of the text.

A fly (drawn on paper) hangs immobile above the very center of the circle formed by the music stands, at a height of approximately 3.5 meters. It is very easy to find it in the air, despite its small size – the music stands arranged in a perfect circle and especially their slants direct our attention to it.

The viewer walks around the entire installation. Everything looks rather serious, respectable: this is some kind of profound text, notes, complex musical phrases on them, and particularly the chairs anticipating musicians who will appear any minute now and begin to play. Everything seems to indicate that the concert is about to begin.

What is the fly doing, suspended immobile above the very center? Is it getting ready to conduct the musicians once they take their seats? Or has the concert been in progress for a long time already, and it is hanging immobile in the air, absorbed by the beautiful music, and in complete oblivion assuming that the concert is taking place on account of it, and perhaps even in its honor?



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1986Megan BartonComment