where we meet
Text by Rosa Burç

Jan Kaps, Köln
June 4 – August 22, 2020

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Press Release

Jan Kaps is pleased to present Melike Kara’s new exhibition where we meet. Born to a Kurdish-Alevi family, Kara shows how notions of “home” transcend national borders, how identity becomes hybrid, between home and homeland. Does one feel at home where one lives? Or is home what is transmitted to you through stories and histories from older generations?

Kara’s new works find traces of the past in the present as they unpack the bags of the previously migrated. Which story, poem, song did they carry with them on their journey? How is a heritage kept alive far from its natural place of origin?

This exhibition is an exercise in following roots, an investigation of the processes of recollecting. It is an extension of what happens when we look at old photographs, keep rituals alive, and ask ourselves what remnants of a former life mean to us today. Can we grasp the exact experiences of generations that came before us? And if so, what meaning holds a precise recovery of their past in our present given that we all are exposed to constant change?


Suggestive of traditional tapestry art itself, in which all the warp threads are hidden in the completed work and where weft yarns are typically discontinuous, Kara’s new series visualizes firm bonds between otherwise fading roots, as well as the dissolution and recovery of memory.

With a variety of interventions such as wallpapers, photography, and installations, Melike Kara exhibits silent observations of people who, even though losing their land, have kept their heritage alive from generation to generation through oral renditions in the diaspora.

Despite the history of the Kurds being one of wars, oppression, persecution, displacement and genocide, Kara’s exhibition sheds light on the mostly neglected and hidden beauties in Kurdish history. Moving beyond her own family’s experience of the Kurdish plight, the artist brings together artefacts that have survived amid all the tornness and dedicates the exhibition to the myriad ways the uprooted preserve their roots.

By recreating the pilgrimage site of the Alevis in Dersim or the mythological figure of the serpentine woman, who is considered the protector of wisdom and history, Melike Kara’s works become a space where the present meets the past, where the spirit and magic of a lost land is transported and revived in the here and now, where we meet.

Imprinted by her own family history and the recurrence of contemporary waves of migration, Melike Kara’s exhibition is a homage to collective memories that we carry with us wherever we go and however uprooted we may seem.

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Der Tank of the Art Institute, Basel
Lafayette Anticipations, Paris
Kunsthalle Lissabon, Lisbon
JTT, New York
Édouard Montassut, Paris