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Ilya and Emilia Kabakov at the 69th Regiment Armory
 
     
 
The Palace of Projects
1995-98
 
The Palace of Projects
1995-98
 
A building within a building, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov's vast "Palace of Projects" is a kind of idealized environment for learning and experimentation. As physically striking as it is thought-provoking, the enormous, dramatically lit structure made of plywood panels, two-by-fours and panels of off-white scrim is perfectly situated inside the Armory. Loosely based on a number of historical models, especially Tatlin's 1920 Monument to the Third International, the building was shown recently in London and Madrid. ArtAngel of London commissioned the project from the Russian-born conceptualists, who intended the "Palace" as a respite from daily strife.

The rooms inside the spiraling structure are laid out as in schoolhouse, with desks provided for study. A number of vitrines with various displays are found throughout. On the wall of the first room is a large pair of feathered wings attached to straps that someone could wear. Other fanciful exhibits address global concerns, such as weather, geography, recycling and waste management. Still others relate to language and social studies. Among the best are some purely poetic displays, such as a tiny room where one can close the door and mediate on a prose poem tacked to the wall which advises one to slow the pace of life in order to enjoy it to the fullest. Certainly such a statement applies to the piece, which ambitiously attempts to merge art and life.

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, "The Palace of Projects," at the 69th Regiment Armory (Lexington Ave. at 26th St.), June 16-July 10.

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