Peles Empire—an artist duo consisting of Katharina Stoever and Barbara Wolff—derives its name and inspiration from the Peles castle in Romania, which is known for its many architectural styles including Gothic Revival, Renaissance, Baroque, and Art Deco. Peles Empire's works begin as copies of photographs of the Castle's interiors, typically in black and white on A3 paper, copied repeatedly until the originals are distorted. Sometimes objects found in the Castle have the same treatment.Read More
The duo's first collaboration took place in 2005, while they were still students at the Städelschule in Frankfurt, as a weekly salon at their apartment. For the gatherings, Stoever and Wolff used a large photographic reproduction of the Princess Bedroom at the castle as a backdrop, an approach that would form the core of Peles Empire's method. The artists collage reproductions into photomontages or, as later in their practice, minimalist sculptures that explore the fluid transformation of three-dimensional rooms into flattened copies, and then into physical works of art.
Notable examples of Peles Empire's work include 'Formation' (2013), which was also the title of their solo presentation at Cell Project Space, London, in 2013. The series was based on photographs of the Peles Castle armoury, which had been magnified, reprinted, and reconstructed. While the room's checkerboard floor or the metallic sheen of the armour was visible in places, details became lost in the processes of scaling, rotation, and cropping, resulting in an abstracted echo of the original.
In 2014, Peles Empire's solo exhibition EVER BUILD at GAK Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst saw the duo steer their focus towards a non-hierarchical use of different materials and processes. Scattered throughout the exhibition space were blue cement bags by the building company Everbuild, which were ripped on the floor or used as supports for rectangular cardboard slabs. In works such as EVER BUILD 5 (2009/2014), the lavish details of the rooms at the castle were replicated in black and white, with a slightly hazy texture that was the result of digital manipulation and collaging. The exhibition also featured sculptures such as EVER BUILD 11 (2014), made with porcelain and clay, with a dash of blue. These were surrounded by smaller fragmented pieces that contradicted the solidity suggested by the cement.
Peles Empire is also the name of the exhibition space that Stoever and Wolff maintain in Berlin, their current place of residence. Previous locations of this space have been in London and the Romanian city of Cluj. A wide range of invited international artists have exhibited there, among them Shannon Bool, Simon Fujiwara, Anthea Hamilton, Oliver Osborne, and Julie Verhoeven—all as part of the art practice of Peles Empire.
Selected solo exhibitions by Peles Empire include Even here, I exist at Barakat Contemporary, Seoul (2020); and The Sky Opens Twice at the Künstlerhaus, Halle für Kunst & Medien, Graz (2019). Peles Empire has also participated in notable group shows such as NOW, Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art (2019); There Is Fiction in the Space Between, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (2019); and Skulptur Projekte Münster (2017).
Biography by Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2020