Critics’ Picks

View of “Peles Empire,” 2015.

View of “Peles Empire,” 2015.


Peles Empire

10 Cazenove Road
September 25–October 18, 2015

A large jesmonite slab sits against a side wall of the project space. Molded within a Perspex frame, DUO 14 (all works 2015) mixes jesmonite with digital prints, paper, and pigments, resulting in a surface as luxuriously mineral as it is eerily evanescent. Peles Empire, the collaborative alias for artists Katharina Stoever & Barbara Wolff, exploits the malleability of industrial and digital forms to materialize the shipwreck of history: Images float to the surface like spume from wreckage, only to dissolve into the corrosive bath of the sea. In other words, they break apart as quickly as they appear. The imagery of DUO 14 is translated and transmitted from an interior scene of Peles Castle, an actual Baroque castle situated in the Carpathian Mountains in Romania (the same structure after which the duo is named). The artists have modified the print so that the slab appears as a blurry abstraction—as if the digital file has degraded to such a degree that it has transformed into a precious mineral. Resplendent in texture, there is an oblique sense of collapse to this geological form.

Adjacent to DUO 14, is tilt up 1, a photo mural arranged and pasted together from a grid of photographs that expands across the entire back wall, buttressed by two slender blocks of jesmonite. The entire mural, which is formed from a collection of smaller photographs, depicts a deinstallation of the duo’s previous exhibition at Schindler’s House in Los Angeles. Rudolph Schindler was known for the tilt-up method, where concrete walls were seamlessly slotted on site. In contrast to Schindler’s method, the tilt-up method deployed by Peles Empire is more haphazard. Below this mural, crushed and crumpled on the ground at the base of tilt up 1, is another sizable photo mural, titled tilt up 2. It lies slumped on the ground as if it had buckled under the weight of gravity, fallen from the wall from which it previously hung. In its degraded state, the work prefigures, perhaps, a disaster to come.