Transformation, change and a tribute to an old myth were the central topics of my land-art installation “Weeping Women” (2007). Based on the San myth about the origin of the huge salt pans at the famous Etosha National Park in Namibia, the artwork consisted of seven tall figures made out of rock-salt. The figures, representing the women who have cried so much for their murdered men and children, that their tears collected into a huge salt-lake, which eventually dried out, were intended to symbolically cry every time it rains. The pure raindrops would mix with the salt and create a natural tear solution, while at the same time also wear away the figures. The “Weeping Women” were meant to cry for all the sadness of the world and slowly wash away. Once they are gone, I hope, enough tears have flown and the world will be a better place.
By recreating the myth through my artwork, I hoped to raise the awareness about the myth, the violence we inflict on our fellow human beings and the pain and sadness of this world in general. But I also hope to offer a solution: although we need to be aware of the history, we should not get stuck in it with blaming and revenge, as this continues the vicious cycle. And just like the Christian myth of Lot’s wife, who could not let go of her past, we will turn into rigid, dry and bitter salt-pillars, unable to move forward. Through acknowledging our pain and emotions and releasing them through the salty tears we cry (and not through calls for or acts of revenge), we can mourn and heal.
The “Weeping Women” have now mourned for four rainy seasons, most of which were unusually heavy rains, with record rains recorded in Namibia during the past four months…. Maybe the world needs to cry a lot in our current times? Most of the “Weeping Women” have “done their duty” and have transformed, cried away and returned to the soil. One is still standing about 50cm high, hopefully crying her last tears during the next rainy season, after which the artwork will have disappeared and with it, hopefully also the need for further tears. I know, I am an eternal optimist and idealist…., that’s just me, but maybe I am not alone?
To see more pictures of this work and its transformation, please click here.