Imke Rust Photo: © Nikolai Ziener

Imke Rust Photo: © Nikolai Ziener

Imke Rust explores different believes and conditions which shape our communities and which influence her personal reality. Through her diverse creative expressions she searches for underlying patterns and tries to find alternative ways of seeing and understanding the world.

Her multi-layered works effortlessly combine and navigate between the personal, social, political and universal. Embracing a variety of media, such as drawing, installations, video and sculpture – the work of Imke Rust often uses and combines simple, everyday or found devices such as thorns, masking tape, salt or chalk. Rust regards materials and working processes as important carriers of the underlying message of the work and therefore carefully selects them to emphasize and add to specific aspects. She succeeds to convey complex ideas in a simple, subtle, yet powerful and witty manner.

In her recent environmental land art she draws the attention to the threats posed to the Namib Desert through ever-growing mining and industrial activities. ‘Subrosa’, an installation of 99 roses made from black rubbish bags and barbed wire, which were temporarily planted in the desert, shows her concern about the secrecy and corruption surrounding the exploitation of natural resources. With the work ‘Tokoloshe Trap’ the artist tries to protect the land by symbolically trapping all real or imagined environmental dangers. These ‘traps’ consists of thousands of white thorn pairs, arranged in 39 circles in a dried-out riverbed. For ‘What will be left’ Rust has meticulously cut out all areas from a Namibian tourist map, for which prospecting licenses have been awarded, leaving us to look at a fragile piece of paper dominated by gaping holes.

Imke Rust was born in Windhoek in 1975. She received her BVA degree through the University of South Africa and has exhibited her work nationally and internationally. She has won the Standard Bank Namibia Biennale in 2001 and 2005 respectively and has initiated several project promoting Namibian arts and artists.

The artist currently splits her time between Windhoek and Berlin.

Artist Statement:

I have been labeled a political artist, a socially-engaged artist, a spiritual and an environmental artist. I am all and none of these. I am a conceptual artist, but not in the traditional sense. The concept or idea dictates my art-making mode and choices of media, leading to a wide and unique variety of creative expressions. The only common thread to my works is my strong sense of personal identification with the subject matter.

As banal as it might sound, I am just trying to make sense of the world around me and expressing my thoughts in a way that others understand. I am intrigued by exposing the underlying truths, passionate about finding creative solutions and exploring alternative ways to understand and see the world. To do this, I have found traditional media, such as painting or sculpting, helpful but restrictive and have thus started to consciously use whatever materials and means I have at hand or which are supportive of the message I would like to convey.

The resulting artworks are an intriguing mixture of the intuitive and rational, the mundane and the magical, sometimes serious and at others lighthearted. Although deeply personal, my work often addresses more universal issues and usually combines and layers personal, political, mystical, social and spiritual elements.

Imke Rust