Hobson’s Choice – Peles Empire, FORMATION, at Cell Project Space

15 February 2013 By
Image: Peles Empire, FORMATION (installation view), 2013. Courtesy the artists and Cell Project Space. Photo: Mariell Amélie

31 January – 17 March 2013

258 Cambridge Heath Road, London, E2 9DA

Open Friday – Sunday 12.00 – 18.00


Cell Project Space is currently showing a striking new body of work by Peles Empire.  Founded in 2005, Peles Empire is a collaboration by Katharina Stoever and Barbara Wolff.  The project borrows its name from the Romanian castle Peles, which sits at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains.  Built between 1873 and 1913, the castle’s architecture is a clash of historical styles ranging from Renaissance to Gothic Revival to Rococo.  Peles Empire’s collaborative practice arises from an on-going interrogation into imitation, reproduction and pastiche and since its conception the artists have reproduced over 10 rooms of the castle through 30 exhibitions nationally and internationally.  Their current exhibition, FORMATION, brings together a group of sculptural and digital print works which take as their starting point the castle armoury.  Screens, which are somewhere between formal structures and large hanging sheets of photocopied paper, split the exhibition space in three creating an architecture bigger than itself.  On the screens are monochromatic and pixelated images, enlarged photocopied original documentation of the castle interior, so details and impressions of another historical space can be read in parts but refuse to reconstruct a whole.  Set against the smooth carbon ink of the screens are two series of ceramic pieces which act to anchor the other work.  Made from a combination of unglazed white porcelain and thick black grog – a coarse, dark material like oil or tar used in modern construction which looks like it comes from deep in the ground – these objects, some referencing pots and some tools or spears are, for me, the most seductive part of the exhibition.  Peles Empire are an influential practice to watch and are attracting critical interest, so well worth making a visit.

Main image: Peles Empire, FORMATION (installation view), 2013. Courtesy the artists and Cell Project Space. Photo: Mariell Amélie