Ilya Rabinovich (1965) was born in Chisinau, Moldavia in the former USSR and immigrated in 1973 to Israel. From 1998 to 2000 he was a participant in the post-academic program of the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam (NL), and since then lives and works in the Dutch capital.
The static yet enigmatic photographs of Rabinovich deal with issues of identity against the background of social structures. His works depict places that look as if they are bereft of memory; as temporary, elusive and detached. In this specific atmosphere they evoke two models of exclusion and desolation; the world of the émigré represented as an exile, as ’inside’ and ’outside’ experience*. On the one hand there is a difficulty to find a relation to his childhood lifestyle and environment, on the other hand there seems to be an attraction to those estranged places.
The focus of Rabinovich's practice lies on places that are subjected to radical changes. In 2005 he photographed the interiors of Hotel Rossiya (Moscow) shortly before its demolition. In this project he finds a connection with his background culture by investigating how power and authority were/are presented in the former USSR, and nowadays Russia. For the Muziotopia show in Moldavia (2008) Rabinovich travelled back to his birthplace Chisinau to photograph the existing museums as well as the museum sites that have been 'censored' since the independence of Moldavia (1991). One of the themes of this project is again - the disappearance of the Soviet, communist heritage from the public sphere.
Since 2007 a more active situation is created in Rabinovich’s work, in which the public is more involved and engaged. He achieves this by bringing in spatial and referential dimensions. In 'Rear Window' visitors are handed pocket lights to help find his works in a darkened room (Van Abbemuseum NL, 2008). Or his photographs are juxtaposed with found footage, including texts, from various local sources (Muziotopia, Chisinau, 2008).