Nikolai Nelles gives voice to his Beheaded Buddha, an object that has not only been forcefully separated from its body but also its own cultural context. The buddha’s head becomes the marker of ‚cultural fracking‘, a forceful removal of cultural heritage that provides the subtext of many museum collections of the Global North. Underpinned by the artist’s own experience visiting Angkor Wat, Nelles‘ work aims to deconstructs the fiction inherent in institutional narratives and challenges the politics of representation.
The Berlin-based multidisciplinary artists Nora Al-Badri and Nikolai Nelles have worked together since 2009. Their artistic practice encompasses visual art, documentary filmmaking and cultural activism. Their work addresses hegemonic and neo-colonial power structures and representations of the Global North and South, reflecting on the absurdity of the human condition. The pair stage interventions to challenge social infrastructures and institutions through civil disobedience, and pursue a critical re-evaluation of the cultural commons.