Imke Rust’s exhibition “wo-man” (Wild Art Gallery, Franco-Namibian Cultural Centre, Windhoek, September 2007) of mixed media works on paper is inspired by the yin-yang principle of the unity of male and female energies throughout the cosmos.
“In my art I usually explore issues around the self and the self in relation to others. I am trying to understand and find ways to express who I am, and who we are as humans, underneath outside identifying factors like: female, Namibian, white, artist etc.
Instead of seeing myself as one thing at the cost of another (ie. female and not male) I am trying to find a truer reflection of the essence of being. We are made up of opposites forming a whole: male and female, light and shadow, good and bad. This harmonious co-existence of opposites to form a unity has been celebrated for centuries in all traditions, most notably in Chinese philosophy, where it is known as yin-yang.
I have used specific materials and combined ancient and newly-created personal symbols to express this concept. I am using Maize meal, as a typical African staple food, which is connected to the feminine via the idea of nurturing and cooking, it is a white material, which turns a slight off-white when put on coloured or black paper and has dried – very much like my “white” skin colour. Even the application and effect of the maize meal is symbolic of the irrational, emotional and intuitive side, usually attributed to the feminine, since the medium is difficult to control and one cannot draw a straight “rational” line. I have used the maize meal to draw ancient, archetypical and universal symbols of unity of the male and female energy.
In contrast to the maize meal symbols in the background I have created two of my own symbols or diagrams, which would be my very personal representation of the oneness of male and female – and all other opposites. These diagrams and the way I have represented them are symbolic of the more rational, logical and practical side of human nature, that is usually attributed to the male aspects in nature. One diagram shows a man and a woman forming a harmonious circle and the other shows a figure of a man and a woman, forming an equal-sided cross.
The diagrams are drawn on or cut out off either white paper or acetate, with tippex or marker pen. These images have been layered and sown onto the maize meal symbols, to create several layers of meaning and of male- and femaleness, in different ways.”