Zé Kielwagen: BAFO! Beauty Temple

Zé Kielwagen: BAFO! Beauty Temple

BAFO! Beauty Temple | Call for Beauticians | Beauty Temple Appointments | Events

June 15 – July 26, 2024

Open Source Gallery is pleased to present Bafo! Beauty Temple, an exhibition by Zé Kielwagen.

Bafo! Beauty Temple is composed of Exú Bobolete, Keresemash, and the Beauty Temple, which together propose an afterlife for Baby Bobolete, a queer clown created by Brazilian actor Caike Luna. Baby Bobolete, a flamboyant gay beautician, first premiered on Brazilian TV in 2015, and then expanded to theater, social media and LGBT+ dance clubs. Kielwagen loved her, and spent time studying and documenting her attributes and history. Following Luna’s death, Bobolete appeared repeatedly to Kielwagen in dreams, and each time, the artist awakened with a sense of urgency: Bobolete wanted something from him. The projects featured in this exhibition are his attempts to deliver.

Exú Bobolete consists of a series of cult statuettes depicting Bobolete as a gay variation of Eshu, an Afro-Brazilian folk deity, each of which will eventually be enshrined in different locations. For those interested in engaging in serious spiritual practice, Kielwagen has also created a set of stories, rituals and prescriptions for the new spirit. The altar in Open Source will be the second iteration of Exú Bobolete; the first is in the permanent collection of the National Umbanda Sanctuary of Sao Paulo.

Keresemash is a dance video project, featuring three original choreographies inspired by Bobolete’s body language. Kielwagen and three queer, Brazilian dancers documented these dances in spaces of queer labor: a beauty salon, an Umbanda temple, and an art school. This exhibition features a first cut of the material, currently in post-production; the finished film will premiere in 2025.

Finally, to realize Bobolete’s dream of opening her own salon, Open Source will be transformed into a free Beauty Temple. The Beauty Temple is staffed by Brooklyn beauticians offering hair, makeup, and nail appointments to visitors and encouraging the public to take risks with their appearance. The professional practice of beauticians is presented as both performance art and a spiritual practice, akin to that of shamans, priests and fortune-tellers.

Zé Kielwagen is a Brazilian artist who works in and between the fields of sculpture, performance and video. His work has been exhibited in venues such as the Ghetto Biennale of Haiti, the Queens Museum of NYC, the Museum of Natural History of Paris, the Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro, and others. Kielwagen is also an independent curator and producer, who organizes exhibitions, workshops, performance programs and other events related to art and education. Currently, Kielwagen is a professor of studio art at Oberlin College. He has also taught at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, University of Joinville in Brazil, and other institutions.