Ilya Kabakov
Svetlana Lvovna Solus: Whose Cup Is This?
Jakov Michailovich Sekh: Anna Petrovna's
Metal, oil on plywood
28.375 x 40.1875 x 3.9375 inches
Courtesy Ilya and Emilia Kabakov

Throughout most of his work, Ilya Kabakov weaves bleak memories of his experiences growing up in war-torn Soviet Russia. This painting features a mundane cooking utensil against an impersonal field of color, accompanied by texts in the upper left and right corners. The cup and dialogue mimic life in a communal apartment—low-income housing run by the Soviet government. Families were given just one room in the unit and instructed to share the kitchen and bathroom spaces with other tenants. Kabakov contrasts the meager belongings of Anna Petrovna with the unremitting noise of chatter, evoking a deprived, claustrophobic environment. In this work and other poetic installations, Kabakov suggests the stagnant and oppressive air of not only the communal apartments, but also the entire Soviet Union.

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