There is an unusually warm glow emanating from the typically stark interior of the Mackey apartments located on Cochran Street in Los Angeles. Transformed into a residency in October 1995, the MAK apartments have been creating new interdisciplinary opportunities and confrontations through a lively program of international artists, designers and collectives.
Since its inception in 1994, the MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House has been making a unique contribution to the artistic and cultural landscape of Los Angeles. Offering a year-round schedule of exhibitions, lectures, symposia, and concerts, the MAK Center proudly presents programming that challenges conventional notions of architectural space and relationships between the creative arts.
Built in 1922 by Rudolph M. Schindler, The Schindler House is located in West Hollywood, California. Today, the Schindler House remains a site for progressive art and thought and has most recently been taken over by London based collective, Peles Empire (Barbara Wolff, Katharina Stoever and Marc J. Cohen) who has newly decorated, domesticated, staged, interpreted and even renamed the MAK as their own, Peles Gallery.
When Peles first invited me to do a project during their MAK residency they sent me two very obscure images of their newly decorated Peles Gallery. Peles, admittingly bad at documentation and being present on the World Wide Web, made me a hand drawn floor-plan of the space with a few notes from which I worked. Coincidentally, once I arrived the lovely ladies shared with me their book of past shows where Mark seemed to have a “naked reputation,” as he appeared in towels or a fleshy blur across the lens. From these images I realized that the documentation Peles gave me to work with were good in comparison. Even if the images lack the Mackey apartments spatial qualities the images do capture the beauty, mischief, community and energy that Peles produces in each space they inhabit.
Though one could assume a certain outcome if basing their expectations on past Peles' experiences, a large aspect of their practice is grounded in the unknown, a nonchalance mixed with unwavering focus and rigorous practice. Therefore, working with Peles was an exercise in trust. As I worked from San Francisco on a space I had never seen just as they one did from London. Conversing from our respective spaces what Silverman Gallery and Peles' collaboration produced was a type of travelogue where sociality, discovery and storytelling were the reward. By claiming that the previously known MAK apartment is Peles brings with it a certain rigor that could be lost in such a transient practice. However, it is this rigor that both keeps visitors, friends and the Peles group invested and interested.
When I arrived at Peles from San Francisco, having not seen my friends since our initial introduction in the London Peles Gallery, we set forth to install the exhibition. During the day of install the girls confessed their uncertainty (in a good way) and excitement about looking for a new space in London and expanding or exploring further the framework of Peles. And since they don’t set their own boundaries they can focus on pushing others. And that is just what they do. From wallpapering the historic walls of the Mackey house to nailing into its old frames to pushing one another and even myself to be specific about choices, questioning (more in a curious than patronizing way) installation decisions. While this may seem futile and childish it is rather refreshing to be challenged and see two friends, artists and group members collaborate in such a rewarding manner.
While Peles Empire has moved far from their Frankfurt initiative, they still acknowledge and are thankful for their rock n’ roll education at the Shedhalle. Although this could be one reason for Peles’ thoughtfulness, it is also purely the ethos of Peles Empire: Enter into each project as a family and look back with no remorse.
Jessica Silverman is a recent graduate of the MA Program in Curatorial Practice at California College of Arts as well as owner and director of Silverman Gallery, San Francisco. She has taken part in a Curatorial Residency at the Frankfurter Kunstverein the summer of 2006. As an independent curator she has recently produced International Waters co-curated by artist Soo Kim for StevenWolfGallery, San Francisco and is working on exhibitions with curators Mizuki Endo and whitehot NYC contributor Jan Van Woensel. In 2008, Silverman and Passenger Books will publish Leaving the Library a catalogue of conversations.
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