The Beheaded Buddha


the Beheaded Buddha

2021, essay + digital object + browser-based experience (40 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 bodyless 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?”"

The Beheaded Buddha

Jan Nikolai Nelles

Olamiju Fajemisin

deep listening experience (40 min) 
recommended are headphones
and to use Chrome Browser


last on display at 

»Triennale Fellbach - The Vibration of Things«

15th Small Sculpture Triennial Fellbach
4th of June to 3rd of October 2022

Special thanks to:
Elke aus dem Moore, alongside her curatorial team with Memory Biwa, Antje Majewski, Gabriel Rossell Santillán 
(The Triennale Kleinplastik Fellbach)
Mara Kölmel and Thomas Dumke with Akademie Schloss Solitude and Technische Sammlung Dresden
Anna-Sophie Springer, Etienne Turpin
(K. Verlag and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, 2021)

The production of the 'The Vibration of Things'-iteration of The Beheaded Buddha for the 15th Small Sculpture Triennial Fellbach received funding from the Deutscher Künstlerbund and the 'Ministerium für Kultur und Medien' in the program 'Neustart Kultur'.


Mar 4, 2021

The Beheaded Buddha - Part I has been published at 

»Molecular Minds // Monstrous Matters«
at Digital Academy Solitude, Online Space
and the Technische Sammlungen Dresden, Museum

June 4, 2022

The Beheaded Buddha, Part II was published
at the: 15th Triennial of Small Sculpture Fellbach

The essay was finalized and planned to be published in early 2021 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).

Due to pandemic circumstances, it has not been published till recently.