As an internationally active artist, Ben J. Riepe comes in a variety of ways into contact with the “matter of man” as a surface, as a landscape, as material. He would now want to examine these experiences of the different ways of looking at and dealing with the human physique, as well as with diverse body cultures from the Orient to the Occident. In doing so, Riepe increasingly plays with different aesthetics, divergent historical images and the most different types of masking. This focus is given a relevant political dimension in the context of current social movements and discussions about the encounter with the other or foreign. In times of intense debates about the prohibition of wearing burka on fear of the “cage of fabric” (as the minister of the interior said in August 2016), the aesthetic concern with the topic of veiling and unveiling of the body becomes a political dimension.
In the act of concealing and unveiling of bodies, a whole cosmos is concentrated around the political, social and aesthetic body. The interest lies in the cultural imprints in the body, which reveal in the power of showing and hiding in front of the observer’s eye. One and the same gesture can produce seduction, eroticism, tension and, at the same time, an expression of violence, oppression and power. Ben J. Riepe wants to present this subject on the artistic table next year. Relentlessly. Directly. Aesthetically.
The two-month research scholarship at the beginning of 2017 at the Goethe-Institute in Salvador, Brazil will be decisive for a comprehensive examination of this topic. Through this invitation, Ben J. Riepe is able to get to know many institutions and artists from South America and to collaborate in a collaborative manner. A number of practices of the Brazilian dance and body language are being exchanged within this collaboration. In addition, the experience gained so far has been expanded by an analysis of traditional Candomblé voodoo rites, strict physical forms of Catholicism and the world-famous carnival as a collective ritual of political and physical ecstasy.