The Disturbingly Relevant Art of the Moscow Conceptualists

Kabakov’s installation “The Great Axis” (1984) includes a monumental painting showing a narrow feathery band of green along the bottom and a similar band of blue along the top, with a flat expanse of white paint in between; a thin black line runs diagonally across it, its opposing ends marked with the words “sky” and “earth.” A text panel explains that “The Great Axis” links the sky with the earth; if one fastens the end of the axis on earth, he’ll be able to move the sky, and vice versa. Nearby, Kabakov’s drawings feature short fragments of text rendered in watercolor and ink; reading them is like listening to a discordant chorus of many voices forming the imaginary audience of “The Great Axis.” Some sound curious, others perplexed or hostile, yet others completely indifferent: “Why do they need the labels? It’s all clear as it is”

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The Kunsthaus Zug is building a ship for tolerance

With the project Ship of Tolerance by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, the Kunsthaus Zug invites the public to reflect on the themes of tolerance and respect. The Kunsthaus is thus offering an artistic contribution to one of society’s major current topics. The participatory project by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov provides a tangible experience of tolerance through joint action with others.
First realized in the oasis town of Siwa in Egypt in 2005, the Ship of Tolerance has meanwhile made appearances in such widely diverse locations as Venice, St Moritz, Havana, Miami, Moscow and New York. Now it is in Zug: a region which ‒ with residents from more than 140 nations ‒ is living proof of how the most varied cultures and life designs can coexist peacefully. But Zug is also a region whose economy is subject to global tensions. So it is exactly the right place for a further realization of the Ship of Tolerance project.

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