The Palacio de los Proyectos (1995-1998) of Ilya Kabakov (Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, 1933) and Emilia Kabakov (Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, 1945) is a project in itself -composed both of initiatives and goals- which is presented in the form of an installation at the Palacio de Cristal Retiro Park, where content and container deliberately interfere. The project is complemented with a book where these projects are explained and illustrated.
The Kabakov couple place another palace of circular structure in the Palacio de Cristal that fosters a continuous journey. So, according to the artists, "a light wooden structure is constructed with successive levels which draw a spiral that ascends to a second floor", which holds those projects aimed at the perfecting of oneself, the individual. Each project has its workplace: a chair and a table, where there is a description and commentary on each model, which seeks to contain and preserve the general idea of the project. This invites the visitor to stop at each of the cubicles or desks and become familiar with each project without any pressure compared to a tourist view which is the usual stage in museums.
The sixty-five projects that make up the installation are divided into triads, depending on their nature. In this way the projects are grouped together as: those with the principle of power and control; those where the idea of blackmail and threats of complete liquidation and others that relate to the notion of movement, based on the principle of "further away, stronger, faster."
Conversely they are organised by the state in which the projects that make up the world are found: completed, half done and those that have not yet been started. Thirdly, they are distinguished by the type of concepts and suggested ideas: how to improve the lives of others (38. Non-transport and 43. Closets of solitude), projects that stimulate creativity and help to inspire other projects (57. Generator of ideas; 63. A door on the ceiling) and those on the way towards perfecting oneself as an individual (4. Encounter with the past and 17. To escape from oneself).
The Palacio de los Proyectos is presented as a feasible utopia, since their contents can be made. However, its utopian character affects the conceptual level, the need for a new attitude towards the piece as a project that demands silence from the public, and to think and engage with the piece. Ilya and Emilia Kabakov’s starting point to launch this project is the belief that "the only way to lead a dignified human life is to have your own project, conceive it and carry it through to completion", they believe that the project is the concentration, the personification of the meaning of life.
The Roundhaus, London (March 23 - May 10, 1998); Upper Campfield Market, Manchester (May 24 - August 16, 1998)