Christiane Peschek: Liminal Ghosts at Diana Gallery, NYC (Review)

Christiane Peschek: Liminal Ghosts at Diana Gallery
Installation view, Christiane Peschek: Liminal Ghosts at Diana Gallery, New York, 2022.

Christiane Peschek’s latest exhibition, “Liminal Ghosts,” represents a collaboration between the artist and SANATORIUM, a Turkish gallery based in the Karakoy neighborhood in Istanbul known for its commitment to critical thinking, experimentation, and the presentation of new aesthetics, which could be seen as research into ideas of liminality we are confronted with not only today but throughout history.

Liminality focuses on the adjacencies of things and the in-between. It is here where the subjective reigns and certainty takes a step back. Words fail. Constructs whither, decompose, become ghosts. In this way, a liminal ghost could occupy a variety of strata with its identity fluidly mingling with a complex array of objects seemingly paradoxical, distant, or unrelated.

Housed in New York in the cooperative exhibition space, Diana, from October 19 to November 25, this exhibition invites us into a world where the boundaries between the physical and the digital, the tangible and the virtual, dance together entangled. Peschek’s artistic practice has a long history of treating virtuality as an extension of ourselves with its possibilities. She leverages the possibilities of the digital age to create archives from images found on the internet, particularly those of gendered bodies. These images are retouched, morphed, and transformed to reclaim their once-fluid existence. “I fancy the idea of lingering in the gap of intertwined worlds between physical and virtual space. I imagine the Instagram feed as a liminal space where humans transiting into hyper potent versions of themselves that are floating there for an ‘eternity’,” remarks Peschek.

Installation view, Christiane Peschek: Liminal Ghosts at Diana Gallery, New York, 2022.

The outcome is a set of portraits that take on a ghost-like quality, where identities become smoothened surfaces as if they were ethereal manifestations of our digital selves. “We may not always know what’s on the other side, but we trust the physical world to be there at the end of the bridge. In other words, what’s on the other side already exists in our dimension, whether we can perceive it or not,” says Peschek.

“Liminal Ghosts” can be seen as an investigation in the form of a series of portraits on fleece that oscillate around the theme of identity fatigue. The work here references overstimulation experienced in a screen-obsessed world, where the boundaries between reality and the virtual world have become increasingly ambiguous. In her exhibition, Peschek transforms DIANA’s space in New York City into a supportive home for identity discussions. “I feel the gender debate is still a very niche topic, considering that the world (virtually same as gravital) still produces social binaries that are stuck in classical gender division,” says Peschek.

Installation view, Christiane Peschek: Liminal Ghosts at Diana Gallery, New York, 2022.

“Liminal Ghosts” focuses on Peschek’s research into the impact of digitalization on our concept of self. In the digital age, a photographic image is no longer a static chronicle; it has become a fluid construct. Using phrases like “phygital”, “internet gaze”,  and “hyper-ego”, Peschek highlights the ever-shortening gap between the physical and digital world creating a new lexicon to deal with evolving concepts at the forefront of discourse.

As a society, we have become accustomed to manipulating and molding our images through apps and AI programs. This fluidity in representation poses a challenge for artists. Images are no longer unchanging pieces of work but instead are dynamic, evolving creations. Peschek, however, doesn’t shy away from this challenge. Instead, she confronts it directly, often pushing image editing programs and filters to their limits. She experiments with various techniques, sometimes subjecting an image to a filter up to a hundred times, which leads to a progressive distortion of the face, ultimately rendering it unrecognizable.

Diana Gallery was opened by CARBON 12 (DUBAI), Macaulay & Co (VANCOUVER), and FIERMAN (NEW YORK) and is located in New York at 127 Henry Street, Chinatown

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SANATORIUM started as an artist initiative in 2011 before transforming into a gallery participating in art fairs internationally. They strive to continue with innovative programming while offering free art events in its two venues in Karaköy on the Asian side of Istanbul. Their curation is not only relevant at the forefront of contemporary art in Turkey but globally as well.

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Christiane’s exhibition is the 2nd that SANATORIUM has organized at DIANA. The first was  ‘Astronomy Picture of the Day’ by Yağız Özgen, which took place between May 18 – June 25, 2023.

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Adam Aslan

Adam Aslan is an art writer, curator, and artist who also runs ZXY Gallery based in Brooklyn.

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