On Terra Tenebris
Life is not a fairy tale, as our world is characterized by greed, selfishness and terror. Its story of modernism is a tale of blood and sweat, written into the tombstones of millions of victims. Our civilization stands on top of an enormous mountain of bones. Victims of modernization, smashed by the gigantic wheels of the machinery called modern world, are piled up until the sky. People, animals, and plants have become raw material and resource for feeding the ghosts and monsters of our civilization. Unlike bedtime-stories, our history does not seem to lead to a happy end. So, not utopia but dystopia is our form of living. The worst thing regarding this story is that we are the ones to blame for. Man’s hunger for power has guided us to enslave the rest of the world. Not only are we the worst enemies to our own kind, but to all living organism on this planet. Yes, mankind resembles a virus that destructs its own environment, a deadly parasite that constantly feeds on its host until it is dead and dry. During this process, our fancy life-styles of higher, faster, louder and stronger, as well as the results of a wild capitalism and overwhelming consumerism has endangered the eco-system. We suck our planet dry, until nothings is left. Yes, indeed, we became the kings and queens of the earth, but at the same time we became slaves of our instincts. Even worse, we became the ultimate destroyer, which only exists in the context of destruction. Maybe change is still possible. Though, for this to happen we must wake up and seriously reconsider in order to alter the way we live. Nevertheless, let us just forget about reality for a moment and imagine an alternative way of living and being. Let us overcome logic and rationalism to picture another world, where we would not be masters, and where we would not be strong but weak and woundable. It might be difficult, because we are so used to lead. Though, let us at least give it a try.
Melike Kılıç’s current solo exhibition “Terra Tenebris” at BLOK art space can help us during this difficult journey into an alternative section of our mind. In her latest series she tells a story, where mankind is the servant of animals and plants. She develops an utopia for animals and plants, which at the same time means another dystopia for humanity. The artist designs a complex set-up at the gallery, where each single piece is conceptually related to the whole of the show. That is why Terra Tenebris can be understood as a single installation, where the visitor experiences various parts of a multi-layered story in different sections of the gallery space. For Kılıç, the exhibition functions like an artist book, where the reader can walk through its various chapters.
Conceptually, like in most of her previous works, the artist questions the relationship between mankind and nature, as well as the so-called human domination over all other lives. Terra Tenebris reverses the hierarchy between man and all other beings. In a way, the planet takes revenge for all the cruelty it suffered because of us.
As artistic form of expression, Melike Kılıç prefers for many years the discipline of drawing, because she likes its simplicity, which helps her telling stories in an effective way. At the same time, her work is never illustrative or didactic due to its fragmental and collage-like syntax, where she creates next to drawings on paper, paper-cut-out assemblages and object-like 3-D drawings. Her beautiful play with lines, forms and figures is also always characterized by beauty and poetry. Without any melodrama or emotional overweight, she manages to impress the spectators, and touch their heart as well as their soul. The delicate lines and textures, as well as the nice treatment of figuration, which shifts between representation and deformation, gives the works the power to tell stories without becoming one-dimensional. The scenarios are always mysterious, so that the spectator has to become an active part in decoding the story.
Besides poetry, criticism as well as socio-political dimensions can be found in her work. That is why the beauty of the drawings is never shallow but rather the transmitter for communicating the ideas behind the pieces. The troubled relationship between man and the world, illustrated by a traumatic experience of nature, and its forces sets-up the current conceptual framework. Here, the former weak become the strong and man is forced to serve instead of dominating. So, Terra Tenebris functions like a fairy tale for adults, which critically comments on the current state of our world. Like every story, it has beauty and cruelty, is full of offenders and victims, as well as strength and weakness. In the end, the visitor of the exhibition gains the possibility to look beyond the given reality in order to experience an alternative one. This act is valuable, as it gives the spectator the chance to question and evaluate the actual situation in order to reconsider and changing it.