peles empire


4 May – 22 June 2013

Glasgow Sculpture Studios presented an exhibition of new work by London-based artist duo Peles Empire. This newly commissioned work formed a new chapter in their ongoing investigation into the process of continual representation.

Artists Katharina Stoever and Barbara Wolff have been working together under the name of Peles Empire since 2005. Their singular yet infinitely expanding subject is the opulent 19th Century Peleş Castle in Romania. Perhaps the ultimate work of stylistic pastiche, each room in the castle is decorated in a different architectural style – Gothic, Art Deco, Rococo, Renaissance and Italian Baroque are all appropriated. As a means of exploring what happens during the process of reproducing something that has already been reproduced, the artists began to recreate rooms from the castle using A3 digital prints of photographs taken surreptitiously on visits to the Castle.

For Glasgow Sculpture Studios Peles Empire created a new installation based upon a detail of one of their previous reproductions. Taken from photographs of a ceramic sculpture made by the artists (itself a copy of a detail of one of their previous digital images of the castle), the installation takes the form of a series of large floor-based sculptures that fill the gallery. These works are made from a number of joined sheets of A3 paper, which are then folded into various formations.  The material fragility of these large works is contrasted not only with the concrete floor they are placed upon but also with a number of small-scale wall-based pieces, created from a mixture of cement and paper. Each individual piece in the exhibition will represent the same object albeit in a different formation.

Relating directly to the floor sculptures, the title of the exhibition, F X G, is the mathematical definition of a fold. However, it can also be read that the variables in the equation, F and G, represent the materials used in the exhibition – paper and cement. The materials chosen by the artists are perhaps as important as the images they represent. Often choosing to combine typically opposing materials, their works not only explore transformation of representation, but also the potential transformation of those materials when they are mixed together. These experimentations add to the abstracted and distorted nature of the work. As such the imagery from the Castle becomes increasingly buried by the artists’ process and takes ever longer for the viewer to recognise. This perpetual fragmentation of an ‘original’ source continues Peles Empire’s challenging explorations of a postmodern Russian doll process of what happens to an image when you copy a copy of a copy and so on. Peles Empire’s work creates a tension between original and reproduction, authentic and copy, historical and contemporary and highlights the inherent confusion of what constitutes ‘the original’, especially in the digital age we now inhabit.

Glasgow Sculpture Studios is a membership organisation that receives revenue funding from Creative Scotland and Glasgow Life. This exhibition is generously supported by Global Experience Specialists (GES) Ltd and Tiger Beer.