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Takeover #212 Melle Nieling

Melle Nieling: Instagram / Website

#212 (19/09 - 23/09, 2022) written by Linda Köke

Melle Nieling was born in their place of birth at a very young age. In their work, Melle explores the relations between binaries: good and bad, virtuality versus reality, and what is real and artificial. What makes something ‘real’, and how do the things that we encounter every day shape our perception of reality? 

”In my work I try to disarm the charged symbolism of objects. At the moment, I am working on a series about walls. Walls have a charged symbolism, a kind of authority, and separates space and people. We don’t actively think about how walls form our sense of space. But what makes a wall a wall? And how is reality – consciously or not – manipulated by people or institutes?”

In 2021, Melle graduated from a master at the RCA, in London. After having worked from the relatively spacious Enschede before, space for artistic creation was scarce in Britain’s capital. This led Melle to explore video and artificial intelligence, and how its implications shape our perception of reality or what we see as real. The idea of the cult became of particular interest to them, and how these cults influence and manipulate people, as a form of ultimate authority.

“When I start making a new work, everything is possible. I have an idea that I want to research further. To me, making work is more about expressing a concept; I thoroughly think my art through before starting to make it. Sometimes, I miss that sense of experiment and struggle when physically constructing the work. As a result, it might be perceived as too thought through and even a little boring.”

In our interview, as we sit on opposite sides of a large room and communicate via megaphones, Melle tells me about their aim to create unclear and vague scenarios that spark discussion about social norms and expectations. We are surrounded by the walls of their studio: some are real, some made by Melle. “In my ideal world I hope that people will experience the world around them differently after seeing my work. The next time they see a wall, they will wonder why this wall is here, and what it is trying to tell them.” I look around and see a fire alarm, accompanied by the typical British overflow of cautionary stickers. It took me a while to even see that it was never originally there and is part of a work made by Melle.

“I think I am easily bored with things,” Melle laughs. “I am interested in so many different things, but I think it’s often for the wrong reasons. What I love about being an artist is that I can be inspired by all these varied things and combine these into my practice – from making websites to building walls.”

During the takeover, Melle will present a combination of earlier work and things they are working on now. They tell me about two exhibitions they are preparing for: one in Leipzig and one in Copenhagen. “I will approach this takeover as an experiment to show things that I’m doing now!” they shout through the megaphone, after which they put it down on the floor and get back to the Excel sheet where they keep all their inspiration for the takeover. Just before leaving, we exchange British recipes and store the two megaphones behind a wall – real or artificial; who’s to tell?

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