Little White Men


YEAR: 1983



Collection of the artist.


First realized in the Moscow studio 1983.

Version 1

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

Version 2

Trans/Mission – Konst i interkulturell limbo, Rooseum, Center for Contemporary Art, Malmö, 27 August – 27 October 1991 (as part of No 50, The Mental Institution or the Institute of Creative Research, Room 9).


The dwelling is a slightly elongated rectangle 7 x 5 meters that is absolutely dark inside. The light has been turned off. Near the wall opposite the entrance stands a tall glass display case similar to those in museums for exhibiting particularly valuable artifacts from antiquity. The entire exhibit is under glass, of course. The structure of this glass ‘cabinet’ is made of dark wood. In a word, this glass ‘cabinet’ itself should have an old, antique appearance. The inside of the cabinet is completely empty, but at the same time, it sort of shines as a result of two beams of light aimed at it. In this dim light, the viewer can see inside the cabinet a multitude of small, white little people that are 2 cm tall. They fill the space of the cabinet and form unique rows and configurations that transverse the inside space in all directions: rows of little white men depart into the top corner of the cabinet. They form a circle, and they move across in a crowded group.

All of this should create the impression of the life of mysterious white beings that in a strange way exist in this large glass aquarium.

As for the ‘little white men,’ who are they, where did they come from and where are they going? In part, perhaps, their appearance explains the story of one of my neighbors who admitted to me that sometimes he sees the soul without the body living inside of us, and it has the same shape and appearance as these ‘little white men.’ But isn’t this just delirium?



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1983Megan BartonComment