⟨ Art ⟩

Ilya Kabakov

Works with Garbage

Words / Vennes Cheng
Translation / Ian Tsang

直至1987年移居美國,Ilya Kabakov一直都待在莫斯科一幢五層高的閣樓創作,那裡是他的工作室。那是解體前的蘇聯,三十年來Kabakov每天早上九時便會到達那裡,從後門進入並拾級到位於五樓閣樓盡頭的工作室,沿途總滿是垃圾:入口處、庭園、二樓的兩個共用廚房中間、閣樓的長走廊,滿是各種各樣的垃圾。有時候會看見還穿著睡袍的女士於其中一個共用廚房走出來,把昨晚的廚餘倒進垃圾筒中;閣樓的走廊,總會有不同種類的傢俱被棄置其中:橡木餐枱、大型雕花鏡框、雙人床架⋯⋯有時候Kabakov會人棄他取,把舊傢俱抬回工作室使用。更多時候他在垃圾堆中找尋紙張:傳單、舊報紙、雜誌。就是各種各樣的紙。

Until 1987, when he moved to the US, Ilya Kabakov had always worked on his creations at the attic of a 5-storey building in Moscow, which served as his studio. This was before the dissolution of the Soviet Union. For more than 30 years, Kabakov would arrive there at nine every morning, enter from the back door, and climb the stairs to his studio at the attic on the fifth floor, at the very end. All the way, garbage was always everywhere. Various kinds of garbage could be found at the entrance, in the garden, between two common kitchens on the second floor, and along the long corridor at the attic. At times, he would see a woman, still in pajamas, emerging from one of the common kitchens and throwing away leftovers into the rubbish bin. Constantly found discarded along the corridor of the attic were various types of furniture such as oak dinner table, large carved mirror frame and double bed frame. From time to time, Kabakov would take what others had dumped, carrying old furniture items back to his own studio for use. More often, though, he would search for paper in the garbage heap: flyers, old newspaper, magazines. Simply different types of paper.

Kabakov也將廢紙存在閣樓工作室,後來翻閱舊紙張(尤其那些具相當歷史)變成了他的樂趣。他會把紙張整理、拼貼並儲存在文件夾中。這並非因為他想保存入檔,而是從整理廢紙過程中,他看見心理上的另一個自己,那個不願放棄每一頁過去的Garbage Man。這些被棄掉的過去,後來變成了Kabakov的裝置《The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away》(1988)。裝置是間細而長的窄房間,像一條有兩道門的走廊,其中一道門經常關上。Kabakov把那些舊紙像在工作室般,以透明文件夾展示或懸掛其中,觀眾參觀時就像Kabakov在工作室般被廢紙淹沒。舊廢紙滿載了前蘇聯生活、精神、心理及實際環境上的種種面貌,當時的國度就像一個大垃圾箱,搜集並儲存就是 Kabakov對所謂家國感情的一種絕望投射,他不想面對卻一直存在。

這種精神狀態其實源自Kabakov的人生。他是少數沒有受到迫害的蘇聯藝術家,還是當時著名蘇聯藝術家工會的成員,一年中他會用三到六個月的時間去畫兒童插畫書,這些插畫當然是社會主義寫實風格的插畫;餘下時間會埋首以匿名創作自己的作品,這些作品都是關於蘇聯神話式的興起與消失的過程。匿名的作品就像他藏在閣樓創作室中的舊紙張:滿佈塵埃的過去,一旦被發現,塵埃會揚起並在空中飄散。

Having also kept the wastepaper in his studio at the attic, he later on developed an interest in flipping through old pieces of paper, especially those with a long history. He would organize and make collage with them, and keep them in folders. It was not because he wanted to keep a record. Rather, while processing the discarded paper, he saw his other mental self — the Garbage Man who was not willing to give up any single page of the past. Later on, these discarded pieces of the past became Kabakov’s installation titled The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away (1988). The installation consists of a small room, long and narrow, resembling a corridor with two doors, one of which is often shut. Just as he had done in his studio, Kabakov used transparent folders to display and hang the old pieces of paper inside the room. While inside, visitors feel like being inundated by the wastepaper, as did Kabakov himself in his own studio. The wastepaper recorded in rich detail about different aspects of Soviet Union, covering life, mental, psychology and actual circumstances. The country back then resembled an enormous rubbish bin. Through collection and storage, Kabakov was expressing a kind of despair towards so-called national sentiments. What he did not want to face up to existed all the while.

Such a mental state actually originated from Kabakov’s life. He was among the few Soviet Union artists spared from oppression. He was also a member of the then well-known Union of Soviet Artists. He would spend three to six months every year to draw illustrated books for children, obviously with a style of socialist realism. The remaining time, he would bury himself in creating his own work under a pseudonym. These pieces are all about the process of Soviet Union’s legendary rise and disappearance. Once the past is discovered, the layer of dust covering it will rise and disperse in the air.