Consuming spirituality with Silas Inoue

Featured in: Issue Nº 2

Category: Interview


By: Erik Duckert
Photos by: Martin Kurt Haglund

WE FELL for the way Silas Inoue crosses spirituality with contemporary consumer culture: you’re never really sure if he is being critical or praiseful of the phenomena he addresses.

Silas invited us for a chat at his humble flat in the southern outskirts of Copenhagen

– welcomed with coffee and cigarettes.

INOUE: “I work in the paradox between the fast paced life style of contemporary living

and the often neglected intuitive and spiritual


to the world.”

Smokes a cigarette and modifies his statement.

I: “It’s difficult to try to define one particular direction in my work,

it centers around a lot of different aspects and elements in contemporary society.

Key words could be phenomena like:
team building,
commercialized spirituality,
experience economy,

… and so on.”

Silas Inoue graduated form the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 2010 and
works with the complex ways cosmology and spirituality intertwine in the vast commercialisation of contemporary culture.
He engages these composite structures through medias like
ceramic sculpture, various installations and water-colour-painting.

Work from the exhibition Wellness at Marie Kirgaard Gallery, 2013. Photo: Carsten Nordholt.

He insistingly flicks
the little wheel on his lighter.

I: “There’s a critical element to my work, but also a fascination:

all phenomena are complex and I don’t pretend to judge what’s right or wrong

– even though there are things I definitely disagree with.”

Silas has just come back to Copenhagen from an artist residency programme in Rome, Italy where he, while living as a tourist, made an exhibition about tourism.
It was called Glitch and the whole thing was inspired by studies of the futurist movement.

I: “In tourism a location is typically traded for it’s authenticity,

but as we all know the commercializing act notoriously dissolves authenticity

– I find that kind of paradox very intriguing.”

I: “Compared to the futurists of the 20th century, who were obsessed
with speed, we, in our era, have actually ‘passed speed’ in a way.

When you snap a photo for a social media with a smartphone, for
example, the act and the mediation have fused into one instant;

it’s so fast that the sense of movement has disappeared, thus we
have in a way dissolved or transgressed the very notion of speed.”

More cigarettes

more coffee.

Silas Inoue, Selfie, 2014
Silas Inoue, Selfie, 2014

For the exhibition X, he recently did in China, Silas made a sculptural piece addressing the industry of so called Virgin Hair in India.

In India scores of people travel to the Tirumala Temple to sacrifice their hair.

The twist is, that the sacred hair after removal is packaged and sold to beauty salons all over the world who use it as hair extensions.

– It is an enormous industry, and of course you never know if the hair you buy is genuine virgin hair form the Tirumala Temple.

“For the piece Extension in China I bought some of this virgin hair (allegedly from Tirumala Temple) online and attached it to a cherished paint brush, I had bought on my first trip to China in 2008

– it has now been transformed from being a tool in my studio to becoming a sculpture hanging on a wall in China.”

We hang around for one more cigarette while Silas tells us about a dismembered praying mantice he once smuggled back from Japan.

It had to be put down.

For more info please check out Silas Inoue’s website here