Sailing with the Kabakovs

The Ship of Tolerance, the first in a series of installations by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, was launched in 2005 on a saltwater lake in the Siwa Oasis in Egypt.

The Kabakovs picked Siwa, on the border of the Libyan Desert, for many reasons, among them its ancient mythology and modern isolation. The site of Cleopatra’s fabled pool and home of the Siwan Oracle visited by Alexander the Great, it is today a secluded town of date farmers. The Kabakovs, who are Jewish, gave lessons in drawing to the schoolchildren involved in the project, most of whom had never taken an art class—nor had they ever met foreigners or seen a boat before, because Siwa is far from the ocean and no one tries to sail on the brackish lake.

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Casting off intolerance

World-renowned artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov live quietly in Mattituck. But they are forces to be reckoned with on the global cultural stage. The Russian-American couple, who once lived under Soviet oppression, focus their art on themes of tolerance and humanity, values that every day elude much of the adult world. That’s why they give kids — the ultimate victims of adult folly — a say. Their latest installation, “The Ship of Tolerance,” is a child-oriented art project that’s traveled the globe since 2005.

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Kabakovs’ Miami Ship of Tolerance project, 2011

The entire exhibition will be available for public viewing during Art Miami, 2011 from November 30-December 4, 2011.

The Miami Children’s Museum has come aboard the Ship of Tolerance Project, by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, providing coordination of all participating children, a forum for discussion about the universal theme of Tolerance and production assistance for all of the children’s artwork to be used on the project.
Currently in its fifth edition since 2005, the Ship of Tolerance was previously produced in Siwa, Egypt; Venice, Italy; St. Moritz, Switzerland and Sharjah, UAE. The Miami edition will be the first time that the project is realized in North America.

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Kabakov’s Ship of Tolerance Sails into Miami for Art Basel Miami Beach

The mission of the Ship of Tolerance is to educate and connect the youth of different continents, cultures, and identities together through the language of art.

“Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let’s use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together.” (President Barack Obama, January 12, 2011, University of Arizona memorial service)

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Ship of Tolerance Project Miami Children’s Museum

The brainchild of Russian-born Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, the Ship of Tolerance Project will enlist the Miami Children’s Museum to coordinate all participating children and their artwork that will be used on the project and to provide a forum for discussion of the theme of tolerance. Local children between the ages of 6 and 13 will learn about the project and will design and create their artwork contributions. At MCM, after discussing this Ship of Tolerance theme as a group, children have been painting their own interpretation of Tolerance onto a large piece of canvas of uniform size. Approximately 150 of these canvas paintings will be later hoisted onto the mast of the ship, which will be constructed on site at Art Miami 2011 where it will be available for public viewing.

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