Peles Empire | Foam born

17.04.21 – 14.05.21

Peles Empire dissect and reshuffle the supposedly original meaning of somewhere (like the castle Peles), something (like a specific form of architecture), or someone (like Cleopatra or Aphrodite), in order to question what time and culture has made of it.

In past work, Peles Empire has investigated the mythological or re-written histories – Cleopatra, for example, or the global presence of prehistoric clay figurines with comparable meanings.

Aphrodite (born, according to myth, in Cyprus) has, like Cleopatra, a tainted image and was a starting point for research. She has been the subject of art, mythology and fantasy for Millenia. Mostly from a male perspective; giving her a passive rather than an active role. Throughout the centuries her representation has shifted (from bird-like or penile clay figurines to bearded representations, or, famously, to Botticelli’s depiction). So, too, has her meaning shifted. The partly demonised, partly sexualised perception of Aphrodite is a more recent development; it ignores that for the ancients Aphrodite was a patron not simply for lust, but for a lust for life. An aspect often unmentioned is that she was the goddess of Mixis, celebrating sexuality in its diversity and helping humans to live together.

Aphrodite is also said to have planted the first pomegranate tree on Cyprus. The fruit itself has a long historical tail of references, including the suspicion of it being the “apple” Eve plucked from the tree in the Garden of Eden. Notions of guilt about curiosity, sexuality and female expression accompany both Aphrodite and the Pomegranate.

In the exhibition at eins gallery, different versions, interpretations (e.g. the picture of an amphora from the Peles castle) and elements relating to Aphrodite, such as the pomegranate, are combined in a trompe l’oeil manner, printed on silk and partly framed in copper. Cyprus was once the principle site of copper mining, giving it its name (Kúpros) and also represents one of the materials associated with Aphrodite.

In 2005 Peles Empire began their collaboration by opening an illegal bar in Frankfurt’s red light district. The space featured wallpaper made of A3 color copies reproducing, nearly to scale, a room from the 19th Century Peles Castle, located in the foothills of Romania’s Carpathian Mountains. Peles Castle is a castle of historicism as each room is a copy of a different architectural style. That these rooms were built by skilled local craftsmen with little knowledge of the original style or techniques, produced a very specific form of mistranslation, representing a pre-industrial simulacra, which appears to anticipate postmodernism nearly one hundred and twenty years before it started. The same act of copying or translation that birthed the Peles Castle carries over to the artist’s own approach to studio production. What is realized in three-dimensions for one exhibition, becomes the two-dimensional source material for the next period of production. The transition of material from 3D to 2D is simultaneously the content and material for their work. The process becomes, temporarily, the work. The act of copying is more important than the copy itself.


Selected exhibitions: EVEN HERE I EXIST, Barakat Contemporary, Seoul (2020), THE SKY OPENS TWICE, Künstlerhaus Graz (2019), FLAT MOODS, Now, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2019), CLEOPATRE, Suprainfinit, Bukarest (2019), GRID/2 Swiss Institute, New York (2018), REMNANT, Kasseler Kunstverein (2017), SCULPTURE, Skulptur Projekte Münster (2017), GRID, Production- Made in Germany 3, Kunstverein Hannover (2017), MUTANT, Salts, Basel (2015), EVER BUILD, GAK Bremen (2014).


* The opening of foam born will coincide with the opening of A Stranger in the Island, a solo exhibition by Mostafa Sarabi at The Island Club, which will open on Saturday 17 April at 12:00.