Anke Eilergerhard’s Cake-like Sculptures Unpack Ideas About Gender

by James ScarboroughPosted on

Berlin-based artist Anke Eilergerhard makes sculptures from pigmented silicon that take the cake. She transforms Wayne Thiebaud’s Pop cakes into powerful generators of feminine identity (Scott Hove’s monstrous, fanged cakes also come to mind). Some pieces look like traditional wedding cakes. Others look like Meret Oppenheim and Leonora Carrington got together to design them. She examines the forms and, especially, the surfaces of these cakes and cake-like objects. The first impression of the work is quirky and idiosyncratic, lighter than air. Upon closer examination, though, some work looks dangerous. These cakes look fluffy and innocuous. In reality, they serve as a weapon to fight obsolete ideas of feminine identity based solely on beauty.

With its formal and symbolic qualities, silicon suits her subject matter. It’s fast drying like acrylic paint. It’s easy to manage. And it encourages the delicate flourishes and spontaneous gestures of cake frosting. She ascribes a symbolic meaning to it. In an interview, she discusses silicon’s role in the beauty industry, as an enhancer of beauty as well as a masker of blemishes.

She draws inspiration from the kitchen. By her own admission, the kitchen is a symbol of a traditional female identity. The kitchen also provides the colors and shapes that interest her. By casting traditional subjects in an unexpected material, she explores ideas of beauty as well as of decay. Marriages, after all, are often as ephemeral as the scrumptious cakes that commemorate them. Beauty, like everything else, decays over time.

Her subject matter may be un-monumental but the issues she broaches are profound. She gives a new meaning to culinary art. She explores traditional – some may say anachronistic – ideas of beauty. She takes these ideas at face value. She engages them; she exaggerates them; and she exploits them. The result is a body of work that is as provocative as it is delicious.

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