Rihanna’s beach bod has served as the inspiration for an enormous and bizarre new outdoor sculpture in Berlin.
Unveiled Friday (June 4) as part of the ninth Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, the artwork consists of a giant cutout image of Rihanna with her head removed and a face splashed onto her chest. It’s called Ewaipanoma (Rihanna), and it’s part of a series by Colombian artist Juan Sebastián Peláez.
“Ewaipanoma” is the name of a mythical race of headless humanoids supposedly discovered by English explorer Walter Raleigh in Venezuela at the end of the 16th century. Berlin Biennale's website notes that Peláez’s work features "upright, oversize photo-cutouts of headless human bodies—captured in athletic positions, sporting bikini swimwear, or posing in the limelight in glitzy, bling gowns—with faces surreally integrated into their chests. Both the bodies and faces are sourced from pop queens and soccer stars from the Caribbean or Latin America."
The source photo for the mega-Rihanna comes from a paparazzi shoot taken in November of 2013, when Rihanna was vacationing in Barbados. The strange, dehumanizing effect of her headlessness might be part of a commentary on the way celebrities are consumed as products rather than people; by tying paparazzi photos into the colonialism that created the myth of the Ewaipanoma, Peláez seems to be looking at how contemporary culture still carries a legacy of exploitation.