The Beheaded Buddha

Olamiju Fajemisin

browser-based experience (17 min) 
headphones recommended
desktop optimized (chrome tested)


on display at 

»Molecular Minds // Monstrous Matters«

AKADEMIE SCHLOSS SOLITUDE + Technische Sammlungen Dresden
Date: Thu, Mar 4, 2021, 19:00 Uhr


the Beheaded Buddha

2021, essay + digital object + browser-based experience (17 min)

The severed head becomes an object of possession—a commodity. The beheaded body remains in its place, a relic of cultural fracking; the act of beheading a religious artifact is a mode of acquisition, harvesting the remaining fruit of these impoverished times.


The Beheaded Buddha, 2021, .gif (photogrammetry)

The Beheaded Buddha, 2021, .gif (photogrammetry)

When looking at the severed head of a Buddha in a museum, I had never asked myself: “Where is the body of this head?” It doesn’t take a detective’s trained eye to notice the signs of fracture, the broken edges on the neck of the exposed and bodiless head. It was due to ignorance that I did not ask the question. I ignored the discontinuity of the figurative and its absence because of the exhibition itself. The museum seemed to confirm that no further explanation was needed, and the disembodied “head on a stick” did not produce any cognitive dissonance that would have led me to question the scene. I simply didn’t need to ask: “Where is the body of this head?”  And yet, very curiously, the first question I asked myself upon seeing the Buddha statues without their heads in Angkor Wat was insistent: “Where is the head of this body?”

To be published shortly as "The Beheaded Buddha," in Decapitated Economies, intercalations 5, eds. A.-S. Springer and E. Turpin (Berlin: K. Verlag and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, 2021).



Olamiju Fajemisin (voice)

special thanks also to:

Goldilocks (mastering) 
Maximilian Schneider (technical support)
A.-S. Springer and E. Turpin (K. Verlag and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, 2021)
Mara Kölmel and Thomas Dumke with Akademie Schloss Solitude and Technische Sammlung Dresden

The Beheaded Buddha - Part 1 was on display first at

»Molecular Minds // Monstrous Matters«
Date: Thu, Mar 4, 2021, 19:00 Uhr

Location online: Digital Solitude Online Space
Location physical: Technische Sammlungen Dresden

The physical opening at the Technische Sammlungen Dresden will be set according to the Saxon Corona Protection Ordinance. Currently, the Technische Sammlungen Dresden is closed until the end of February.