The Beheaded Buddha takes its point of departure from an essay of the same title. Its audiovisual derivate positions the Buddha’s religious figure as a subject of »cultural fracking,« of the forceful removal of cultural heritage underpinning the perpetuating structure of museums and collections. The Buddha figure is entwined with the everyday lives of countless believers and is in this respect comparable to the figure of Jesus. Imagine collections and museums outside of Christian-dominated regions that almost obsessively specialize in severed heads of Christ figures. Nelles’s work has no intention of hurting religious feelings. Instead, it explores the emancipatory quality of a poetic relocation. Applying an approach of radical honesty to conventional archaeology seeks to transfer objects of spiritual practice from the »absolute space« of the concept of universal heritage into a relational space of transparent intentions. The work is not an expression of spirituality and interiority per se. The aim is to liberate the object and its biography from the attributions of the dominant narratives of profiteers.
Nelles is a multidisciplinary artist based in Berlin, Germany. He studied visual communication and is a graduate of the Offenbach University of Art and Design. In the tradition of institutional critique and decolonial practices, his art counteracts a dominant narrative and a white majority society’s inherent cultural fracking. It challenges cultural institutions like the public museum by civil disobedience. His artistic practice reflects on technology’s potential, as a speculative material, to contribute to the collective imagination. Approaches like »technoheritage« and »Fossil Futures« conflate the ancient and the futuristic to articulate a vector of collective growth, healing, and transcendences in the now. Overall, his artistic practice reflects on the human condition’s absurdity. His work The Beheaded Buddha is accompanied by the essay of the same title published in Decapitated Economies, Intercalations 5 (K.Verlag and HKW, 2021).
Berlin/Germany – Web Resident »An AI Summer,« 2017