Peles Empire


Cell Project Space presents a newly commissioned work by the artist duo Peles Empire. As a continuous approach to their practice the artists have used the armory room of a 19th Century Romanian castle as a starting point for the exhibition’s construct. They have created 3D interpretations using original photographic documentation of the castle’s interior and artifacts and reproduced these into two-dimensional renderings. This complex process of evolution transcends collage and deconstruction to present a dissemination of the original thought.

FORMATION brings together a group of sculptural and digital print works, which explore the potential of a historical space and transforms it into physical material. Space is expanded by utilising A3 black and white photocopies cut and pasted into backdrops of digital pastiche. Two screens of thickly montaged black and white photocopies divide the gallery into three equally sized adjoining chambers, enabling the spaces to be entirely enveloped by a distorted view of the armory room; traces of the castle contents nestle within a field of reprographic noise. In this instance the imagery only touches the edge of its original subject matter giving an impression of parts left to signify a whole.

Set against a digital print the artists combine an unlikely combination of material, ceramic works made in unglazed white porcelain merge with the porous coarse qualities of black grog, a material often designated for architectural projects. Its brittle harsh nature is set against the matt black sheen of carbon photocopy ink. Adding to this complex web of relationships between various methods of production and references is a play on assumed opposites; photographic versus abstract, hand-made versus mass-produced, Classical versus the Post-modern. Binding all this together, though, the castle armory is ever present, resisting one viewpoint and becoming more liquid than solid or both at the same time.

Ornamentation and decoration is suggested here, however, Peles Empire refuse their work to be purely gestural, considering this to be insufficient. Instead the problematic properties of material combinations are left to metamorphose throughout the gallery, threatened by the possibility of imminent collapse. This contrast between the fragile nature of ceramics with the raw energy of visual imagery holds back the possibility of the work taking a definitive form but exposes the potential of transformed material.

Founded in 2005 Peles Empire is a collaborative work by Katharina Stoever and Barbara Wolff. The project borrows its name from the Romanian castle Peles, built between 1893 and 1913 at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains, The rooms of the existing castle copy a range of past architectural styles, combining Art Deco, Orientalism, Renaissance and Rococo. The creators of Peles opposed any current design trend by establishing an almost ironic representation of the ‘ideal’ castle. Stoever and Wolff have reproduced over ten rooms of the castle since the project began and have collaborated with a range of artists. They have based themselves in Frankfurt, Los Angeles and London and have collaborated with artists in over 30 exhibitions. The project now consists of two exhibition spaces in London and Cluj.

In 2012 Peles Empire were included in ‘entrance, entrance’, curated by Isobel Harbison, Temple Bar, Dublin, ‘Young London’, V22, and ‘Bold Tendencies’, London. In 2011 they were selected for Frieze Projects ’ at the Frieze Art Fair, London with previous exhibitions in 2009 including ‘Men’,, Rotterdam; and ‘The Big Armory,’ Maes & Matthys Gallery, Antwerp. In 2007 they were invited by MAK Center for Art & Architecture at the Schindler House, Los Angeles to exhibit in ‘The Mystery of Life’. In March 2013 the artists will have a solo exhibition at Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, Germany, and a solo exhibition in May 2013 at GSS, Glasgow.