Peles Empire: F X G
Multidimensional reproduction of a Peles Castle's ceramic sculpture by established artists
One possible first thought upon entering the gallery and witnessing this exhibition is that its hanging doesn't appear to have been finished. Against the austere walls of this old industrial space, featureless rectangles of concrete hang unlabelled and four mounds of paper appear to have been abandoned, crumpled and misshapen, upon the floor. To truly begin to grasp the work, however, one must first be made aware of the very specific process used by German-bred, London-based duo Peles Empire, AKA Katharina Stoever and Barbara Wolff.
Since 2005, the pair's main and only subject matter has been Peles Castle in Romania, a 19th century pile decorated in various architectural styles, from Baroque to Art Deco and Rococo to Renaissance. Peles Empire's work is an ongoing process of reproduction, and F X G focuses on one very specific part of the castle, a ceramic sculpture which the pair have photographed. Heaps of paper are large scale prints of the photograph, while wall-mounted pieces are smaller identical prints cast in concrete.
It's tempting to see this selection of work as a teasing curio for what they're doing in a wider sense, but there remains much food for thought here. The image itself appears to have been reproduced over and over until it's unrecognisable, hinting at the diminishing value of a non-original copy of an artwork and the sense of cheapness which mass-production brings. There also persists the impression – in the sickly, pixellated, downgraded greens and purples of the image – that the value of a piece of visual art stored on digital media and what that means for its longevity is under interrogation. Yet the concrete pieces work almost as counterpoints, destroying the original prints and reminding us that good art resists being trapped in amber, rather finding its own history as an audience's perceptions play upon it.
Glasgow Sculpture Studios, until Sat 22 Jun