Michail Pirgelis, adopted
07/02/2014 - 12/04/2014
In 1935 Walter Benjamin coined the term aura, a description of an aesthetic experience that was
difficult to convey in words, which he had encountered when observing specific objects: a kind of
atmospheric condensing, which seemingly revealed the essence of the objects, a simultaneous
feeling of great proximity and distance. The works in adopted, the new exhibition by Michail Pirgelis
at Sprüth Magers in Berlin, tend to conjure up Benjamin?s notion of the aura. The objects on display
also refer to so much more than just themselves, appearing equally near and incredibly remote.
They evoke a number of psychological and physical associations which the viewer can hardly avoid.
Despite their almost minimalist austerity, they enable archaeological insights into a world which has
never been seen in this way before.
Michail Pirgelis finds the material for the majority of his works from airplane cemeteries in California
and Arizona, where discarded passenger planes await their dismantling and the recycling of their
valuable aluminium and titanium alloys. Pirgelis removes individual segments from the gigantic
aeronautical bodies, for further modification in his studio. For adopted he has left some of them in
their original state, such as the brake mechanism of the work Onera, almost three meters in size
and reminiscent of a cross. On other airplane components such as the canvas-sized, rectangular
fragments of an airplane?s exterior skin, he has partially exposed the metal beneath the coat of
lacquer. Likewise he has sanded and polished the calotte in When it is called a moment - a
component from the fuselage of an airplane, responsible for cabin pressurisation, normally invisible
to passengers - until its curved aluminium surface resembles a convex mirror. Together with two
other calottes it looms within the exhibition space in a concentric configuration of three. Finally, for
the work Beer or Wine, Pirgelis has mounted flexible airplane cabin flooring, which still retain all the
traces of adhesive, screws, and the holes for seat legs, on an invisible base with a suspension
Whilst the works on display - as a result of their reworking and decontextualising - may have shed
their original functions, they have now become sculptural objects with a distinctive presence. They
are occasionally reminiscent of Gordon Matta-Clark?s heroic gestures in deconstructing houses and
factory buildings, sometimes of John Chamberlain?s car body sculptures and Donald Judd?s
minimalist fetish for aluminium, of Rosemarie Trockel?s psycho-socially charged objects, or the
archaeological finesse of Cyprien Gaillard?s installations.
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