Kübra Su Yıldırım, formerly known as Kafaless, is forging a new reality with her borderless creations across different artistic mediums, one that grows and deepens through questioning. During our visit to the artist's studio in Istanbul, we delved into the underlying dynamics of her visual narratives.
Your works invite viewers into their own stories with every glance, featuring richly characterized figurative realms filled with colors, words, and details that span across various layers. Can you tell us a bit about Kübra Su Yıldırım? When did you start storytelling, and how did it shape you?
When I sift through the archives of my mind to understand the process that shaped the language of my creations, I naturally find myself tracing it back to my childhood. I used to compose rhymes and songs. My father and I would tell stories that began in reality but continued into fiction. Later, during my school years, my relationship with literature extended beyond casual exchanges. I wrote poems and stories, and as I continued writing, a language of my own formed. This language became a means for me to try to depict myself and the world. In an attempt to understand both myself and the world, I created and reflected back on everything I created.
The tip of the tongue potters along, from the teeth to the palate, relying on syllables, from syllables to words, words to sentences, and sentences to stories. Everything we utter creates its own reality. So, do our thoughts as well? But are our thoughts more important than our actions, or vice versa? Frankly, I don't know; I simply intertwine my own stories into reality by sort of staging them.
Arabesque echoes, playful expressions, Arabic words, mythological elements, and cultural contexts; within this tense revelry, we see a completely different reality in your drawings. Where is the source of this world for you? Where do the points you draw inspiration from converge, diverge, or where do you find yourself within this revelry?
The depths of my fascination lie in the subconscious, human dynamics, and the mysteries of the universe. I am drawn to realms beyond the boundaries of rational thought systems. The only thing I don't ever doubt is my skepticism, and this fuels my sense of curiosity and desire for inquiry. As these passions intensify, infinite possibilities and stories emerge, liberating me from boundaries and the absolutes.
While examining the society I live in, its collective memory, culture, problems, and dynamics, I simultaneously look toward the future, the unknown, and the possibilities. Here, grotesque ironies, contradictions, and incongruous situations arise. I might not be able to pinpoint my location, but within the chaos I depict, any character from there would show you where I belong.
The characters you create open a window into gender roles and cultural patterns. You draw bodies going beyond the physical norms, with bird-like hands and feet or figures that twist like snakes from the waist down. Can you tell us a bit about your process of character design? Which colors, shapes, and distinctive features attract you, and what are the underlying meanings?
When designing my characters, I aim to push beyond the boundaries of physical norms and illustrate the potential transformations of the human body. Depending on the narrative of my work, these figures and characters symbolize abstract concepts. Each form, emerging from the depths of my consciousness, carries its own stories, meanings, or meaninglessness. They swim in murky waters, convey messages with resolute attitudes, and embody all these contradictory, ironic, and inconsistent aspects that serve the main narrative.
Clothes depict time and era, and I usually prefer working with textures and patterns with a desire for an abstraction from time. I've noticed that certain colors, objects, images, and figures occasionally recur in my works, and these recurring elements are a part of my ongoing exploration and contemplation. Furthermore, these elements can take on diverse meanings in various stories, contexts, and situations.
Let's talk about your individual and collaborative productions. You have both digital and physical works; we can see your drawings on tapestries at OMM Shop or on album covers, in videos, billboard projects, and as panel paintings. What can you tell us about your production process? Would you like to talk about some of the projects that excite you?
Physical and digital mediums complement each other very well. Although I primarily work digitally, I sketched on paper for a long time before doing digital work. Each discipline has its own nature, flow, and satisfaction, but I believe in the importance of the creative voice that I bring out or the silence. This perspective grants me technical freedom in production processes, enabling seamless transitions between mediums. I start with an idea and ask questions like, 'Why this idea? Where did this idea come from?' rather than 'How should I proceed?' as I advance through the production process. This approach allows ideas to create their own spaces. Therefore, I approach nearly every individual project and collaboration with great motivation and excitement.
What can you share about your future projects? What are your expectations, plans, and dreams for the future?
Currently, I'm preparing for my upcoming solo exhibition. I'm conceptualizing the exhibition's overall theme, the artwork I'll create, and all the finer details. I'm at the beginning of this journey and I'm filled with excitement. Interacting with people through my work is both inspiring and fulfilling, and I aspire for these opportunities for interaction to continue expanding. Moreover, I have several personal projects that I've been eager to pursue, including a book comprised of illustrations, stories, and poetry, a paper game from my childhood memories, an animation series, and some multidisciplinary installation ideas. I've been actively involved in blockchain for over two years now, and while I continue my collaborations with musicians, we've recently embarked on an adventure with a fashion brand that we plan to bring to life soon.