offstage




Ilya Kabakov




The word obscene has an obscure etymology: it can be related to the Latin ob (on account of) and caenum (pollution, dirt, filth, vulgarity); but it can alo be related to ob (tension) plus scena (scene, space of communal ritual, enactment, sacred space). In this sense, obscene doesn't suggest anything vulgar, sexually explicit or dirty, but simply something eccentric, offstage, unfashionable or antisocial. It is similar to profane (outside but in proximity of the temple).


[... quoting Barthes' A Lover's Discourse] 'Whatever is anachronistic is obscene. As a (modern) divinity, History is repressive, History forbids us to be out of time. Of the past we tolerate only the ruin, the monument, kitsch, what is amusing; we reduce this past to no more than its signature'. 


[...] Kabakov's nostalgic obscenity does not simply refer back in time, but rather sideways. In his artistic quest, Kabakov moves away from the much explored verticality of high and low towards the horizontal of the banal and its many invisible dimensions. Kabakov is an archaeologist and collector of banal memorabilia.  


Boym, S (2001) 'Obscene Homes' in The Future of Nostalgia 








Ilya Kabakov