35 Marylebone Road
27 March - 21 April 2013
Ambika P3, University of Westminster, London
A major installation by internationally celebrated Russian artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, influential pioneers of installation art. Staged by the artists in the monumental subterranean space of Ambika P3, The Happiest Man, features a room within a specially created cinema showing clips from Russian propaganda films of the 40s and 50s. The visitor can escape to the room and become 'The Happiest Man' or enjoy the films in the classic cinema setting. The work explores the fragile boundaries between reality and imagination, art and life.
The work is a poignant yet ironic metaphor of the search for a way to flee from reality. Happiness is drawn from fictional films of people dancing and singing and enjoying rural life -- made in some of Russia's darkest years. The 'Happiest Man' has found a permanent escape from reality - watching beautiful images - but the utopia of this continuous escape also illuminates the disenchantment of daily life.
Ilya and Emilia Kabakov have collaborated over many years to make extraordinary installations - whole environments that fuse elements of the everyday with those of the imagination. With a light touch, they combine references to history, art, literature and philosophy, and often leave the spectator poised between fact and fiction, nostalgia and marvel.
While the Kabakovs' work is deeply rooted in the Soviet social and cultural context in which they came of age, it still attains a universal significance. Highly influential, they have created large-scale projects and ambitious installations throughout the world including the Venice Biennial (1993, 1995, 2003, 2007), the SÃ£o Paulo Biennial (2010) and the Singapore Biennial (2008). They were the first living artists to show at the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg and also presented the first exhibition at the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow.
Address: Ambika P3, University of Westminster, 35 Marylebone Road, NW1 5LS
Nearest Tube: Baker Street Station
Opening hours: Tue-Fri, 11am-7pm, Sat-Sun, 12pm-6pm
Telephone number for public information/print: +44 (0)20 7911 5876