A bird puzzled by my artwork in the desert © Imke Rust (detailed view)
I have spent eight days in the beginning of April in the desert around the coastal town of Swakopmund to make artworks in nature. It is my way to raise awareness about the threats which our environment is facing. And it is my way of taking action. I believe that art is not only an aesthetic experience, but also a powerful and spiritual one. Just like the shamans and healers of the olden days have used drawings, symbols, rituals and objects to heal and change the vibrations of the current reality, I hope that my art can have a positive and healing influence.
The Namib Desert at the Atlantic coast in Namibia is currently under much threat, with uranium mines springing up and growing like fungi, huge chemical plants proposed to be built (who plan to get rid of their toxic waste in the Atlantic ocean) and even Phosphor mining plans on our shores. Not only these big obvious projects are threatening the desert and ocean, but also the thousands of people who mindlessly use the environment as their playground without consideration or awareness of the damage they are doing.
I am happy that more and more people are standing up and making their voices heard for saving our environment and there even being signs and actions from our government which gives us hope that they are not going to sell out our desert. I thought a lot about what I can do for my part, and decided that I stick to what I do best: art. Instead of painting posters against the ‘enemy’ I decided to do things pro nature, make artworks which symbolically protect the land from harm, bless it and celebrate its beauty, while at the same time raising awareness about the threats.
I am busy preparing the documentation of the works for my upcoming exhibition in June in Berlin and want to keep the artworks a surprise till then. Instead I will share with you pictures of some of the meetings we had during the eight days, in which we worked in the desert. Just to show you how alive the desert really is with creatures we often do not even notice. All of these and many, many more depend on our choices for their survival. And our own survival depends on a healthy and alive environment.
Horned Viper taking refuge in a shaded burrow
Although I have much time of my life in the desert, it is the first time that I personally spotted this highly poisonous small snake. A good reminder for me to tread carefully for my own protection and on the other hand I felt sadness, as she was living in an area where sand is mined and I guess it is only a matter of time, before she ends up being killed by the huge machines.
A well camouflaged desert gecko
Another gecko, not as fussed with camouflaging
A lizard who has lost its tail
A very friendly and inquisitive pregnant chameleon
A desert rabbit, sitting very still, in the hope that we do not see it…
A black scorpion – very poisonous (you can tell from the large stingers and small fangs)
These are only some of the animals which we encountered while working in the desert, as I did not always have my camera ready…. I was so amazed to notice just how alive the desert really is.
Oh, and then while marveling at the horned viper, we also encountered some very noisy two-wheeled creatures:
Motorcycles and plastic bags in the desert
I wonder how many of our small new friends they noticed? And how many of them survived the encounter?
If this matter is also close to your heart and you would like to show your support for the environment of the Namib Desert, especially around Swakopmund, please join the Facebook group “Industrial Swakopmund – What Future do we Want?” and stay updated about the latest news and actions.
The art project was funded, in part, through a Grant by the National Arts Council of Namibia (NACN), the opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed herein are those of the Author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the NACN.