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Moscow and put in jail. My mother spent three years in jail; my father, seven. I was 12 years old when my parents were arrested. My grandparents were crying for 24 hours because they didn't know what to do, and through sheer determination, I decided, 'I'm going to be what I want to be.' I was raised by my grandparents, which means I got sent back to Dnepropetrovsk [Ukraine]. Because of my parents being in jail, I couldn't get into college. I had to go to Siberia to study, then transfer to Dnepropetrovsk. Then to Moscow, where I finished university, Spanish language and literature, then enrolled at the music conservatory. Gabriel Martinez Anna Mavromatis A scene out of Casablanca. EK: I'm a classical pianist. Yes, that was my life. That was my desire, to be famous as a musician. I was giving concerts. I was actually pretty good. Then I overplayed my hand. I decided to move to Moscow in 1969, trying to immigrate. Finally, I succeeded. Because I have a very strong character, if I hear somebody telling me no, I will find a way to make it happen. I was married at the time to somebody else, and I had a child. Ilya was the person who took me to the train in Moscow; he was the last person I saw when I left Russia. It was romantic. At that time, if you leave, that's like you die. You can't communicate, you're not going to come back ever again. That's what they told you. I went to Israel, moved to Belgium, had my second child, and my husband and I moved to the United States. We ended up in New York. In 1987, Ilya left Russia. Perestroika just started to happen. He got an invitation from the Austrian Minister of Culture for six months. He went and never come back. Then, at his first exhibition in New York, we met again, in 1988. Kabakov conquers Europe. EK: By the time Ilya came to the States, a lot of dealers including Leo Castelli came and said, "Can I sign Kabakov?" He was very famous, and he was considered the best artist of the Soviet Union by that time, with his Moscow conceptualism. He already had exhibitions in Swiss museums, was in Swiss collections. The Pompidou had bought The Man Who Flew into Space from His Apartment. So, when I returned to Moscow in 1990, I was organizing exhibitions. Every artist was talking about Kabakov. Suddenly, the West opens doors. Every museum, every gallery wants to have a Russian exhibition. We had exhibitions all around the U.S., all around Europe, Australia, Japan — we were traveling, something like 45 exhibitions a year. Venice Biennale, Australian Biennale, Istanbul Biennale. Finally Ilya got to realize his dreams. Ilya works from fantasy; he's full of his ideas. I was joking at that time that if you leave Kabakov for five minutes in a closed room, he will come up with a complete installation, along with the drawing sketches. Down to the smallest detail — it's a little bit like Hitchcock. On meeting Donald Judd. EK: It happened in Cologne. Ilya had an exhibition with the girlfriend of Donald Judd, Marianne Stockebrand. Judd come to see his exhibition and was so smitten that he made a drawing of the fly as a present to her. Ilya's big exhibition, "The Life of Flies," had 10 rooms, each with different flies. It's complicated to explain because it's about politics, in the Soviet Union. We had dinner together. Judd said, "Why don't you come to Marfa and do something." Judd tales + memories of Marfa. EK: We spent three months in Marfa and did the installation School No. 6. Then we just became friends. We used to come to stay in Marfa with Judd. Everybody told me Judd was a hard man. I would say he was also a shy man. But he tried to hide it under the surface, you know, show the face of a lion. But it wasn't really who he was inside. And he was very talented, very broad-minded. A fascinating man. One funny episode: We're at the ranch. I left Judd and Ilya together. (I'd been the translator.) Then I came back in an hour. I said, "How are you doing?" and Ilya said, "Fantastic. We had such an interesting conversation." I said, "What language? He speaks English, you speak Russian." He said, "An artist doesn't need language to communicate." "Ilya & Emilia Kabakov: Paintings about Paintings," September 25, 2021 – February 13, 2022, at the Dallas Contemporary, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov's The Six Paintings about the Temporary Loss of Eyesight (They are Painting the Boat) Archive Number 814, 2015 Ilya and Emilia Kabakov's Incidental Coincidence # 8 Archive Number 909, 2018 52

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