The Man Who Flew into Space from His Apartment


YEAR: 1985



First realized 1985 in the Moscow studio.

Collection Musée National d’Art Moderne- Centre de création industrielle, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, since August 1989.


Ten Characters, Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York, 30 April – 4 June 1988 (as part of No 15, Ten Characters).

Ilya Kabakov. The Untalented Artist and Other Characters at the ICA London, Institute of Contemporary Art, London, 23 February – 23 April 1989 (as part of No 15, Ten Characters).

Magiciens de la Terre, Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 18 May – 14 August 1989.

Directions. Ilya Kabakov. Ten Characters, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, 7 March – 3 June 1990.

From the Collection: Abstraction, Pure and Impure, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 29 October 1995 – 21 May 1996.

La Collection du Centre Georges Pompidou: Les Chefs-d’OEuvres du Musée National d’Art Moderne, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, 20 September – 14 December 1997.

Sar: Mellan demokrati och förlösning i samtida konst (Wounds: Between Democracy and Redemption in Contemporary Art), Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 14 February – 19 April 1998.

50 espèces d’espaces, Centre de la Vieille Charité und mac, Galeries Contemporaines des Musées de Marseille, Marseille, 28 November 1998 – 30 May 1999.

Cosmos. From Romanticism to the Avant-Garde, 1801 to 2001, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, 17 June – 17 October 1999.

Cosmos. Del romanticisme a l’avantguarda, 1801 – 2001, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, Barcelona, 23 November 1999 – 27 February 2000.

Cosmos. Da Goya a De Chirico, da Friedrich a Kiefer. L’arte alla scoperta dell’infinito, Palazzo Grassi, Venice, 26 March – 23 July 2000.

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Not Everyone Will Be Taken into the Future, Tate Modern, London, October 18, 2017, to January 28, 2018.

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Not Everyone Will Be Taken into the Future, The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg and the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, in 2018.


The small room (1.4 x 3.0 x 2.5 meters) is a spectacle of total devastation: the floor is littered with pieces of plaster, there are all kinds of objects scattered around. There is an enormous hole in the ceiling through which a blinding light is falling into the room. It is completely impossible to enter the room: before the viewer is a wall of boards nailed together hastily, so you can only look into the room through the cracks and can see only part of what is going on.

All three walls of the room are covered over with political and other posters, and as a result, the color red prevails in the room. Some sort of a machine is hanging from the center of the ceiling and attached to the four corners of the room. Under it is a strange board placed on two chairs, and behind it, near the wall, is a cot without a mattress or sheet. Above it is a painting. That’s all there is, with the exception of a model of the city standing in the corner which is illuminated by a lamp.


Always, for as long as I can remember and even when I don’t remember (my mother told of this about me as a three-year old), there has been a desire to run, to get away from that place where you are now; to run without looking back, so as never to return; to run so far away that they can’t bring you back from there; to run so fast that you can’t be caught; to run so suddenly and unexpectedly that no one could anticipate it and interfere; to jump out at the most unexpected moment when no one is expecting it; to jump through the window which is always closed, through the door which is most likely locked …

A carefully prepared escape and then its sudden realization. What’s the reason for this passion which has lived in me irrepressibly for years, this passion that was particularly intense, frightening, in childhood when I tried to disappear for any reason and even at a moment when I least of all expected this from myself?

This would start, begin to take shape completely unexpectedly. Then suddenly I couldn’t do anything to control myself. And this would always happen in the most inappropriate situation when I didn’t even have a second’s warning that this was about to occur …

But yet, most often, I knew very well what I wanted to run from, but I didn’t know when and how to do this. To tell the truth, in the majority of cases when I wanted to run this desire remained unrealized: I wanted to, but couldn’t. What interfered was that which always interferes with everyone: an internal prohibition, fear; a total impossibility to do this now or in the future. Propriety, pretense, fear of the consequences, the absence of a goal, the reason for escape, the uncertainty of what would happen next … Sometimes I was ready to run, but some sort of force, completely irrational, literally rooted me to the spot.

But the insane, inescapable need to run, to disappear, to vanish from this place is alive even now, as I write.

When I go visiting I am already happy ahead of time knowing that I will be able to leave there. When I watch something at the cinema, in the theater, I think with joy that this will soon be over and I will be able to leave. Even on a train or in a plane, when I have already left from somewhere, have flown away, I dream about getting off at a stop, nearly jumping from the cabin … In the middle of any interesting conversation, even one which concerns me, I have this insurmountable need to get up and leave. To get up and leave immediately, or at the very least in three minutes!

But don’t I really have the same attitude not only to individual events and circumstances, but to life itself? For a long time, since earliest childhood, I have been sick of, bored, with its exhausting ‘everydayness,’ its circular movement day after day, even the very fact that it ‘is,’ and it’s not important whether it is pleasant, joyful, interesting, or boring, excruciating. I am simply sick of being, and I remember life as a miserable necessity. Flee from life? That never entered my head. After all, the real ‘departure’ will most likely occur on its own, in its own time, and doesn’t depend on our desire.



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1985Megan BartonComment