This secret, underground camp has been established by the Nazi regime in 1943 to support production for the armaments industry. About 2000 female prisoners were stationed here and used as forced labour. The living conditions have been described as inhumane and horrible, and many women have died.
When I researched the history of this place, one small detail grabbed my attention: several combs or pieces of combs were found hidden here. Ex-prisoners who described the conditions, shared, that they were not allowed to have combs in these camps. Being found with a comb could be punished with death. The women secretly made their own combs out of leftovers from the production materials and these were shared amongst them. Unfortunately the self-made combs were not helpful against the fleas – the big problem in the unhealthy living conditions. One lady was able to smuggle in a fine comb and one had to pay half a ration of bread for the use of this comb.
This story of the combs made me aware that the women, despite all their suffering, still had the will to try and create ways to make their lives a little better. Through my art I wanted to restore some of their dignity and also commemorate their strength. It was also important that visitors could relate to these women as fellow human beings on a very personal level.
Therefore my eight life-sized female figures, which have been installed in small groups at different places in the forest, seem to dissolve on one side into the shape of a broken comb.
The women stand proud and strong, while at the same time they fade into the background and are only clearly visible from a certain angle. Making us aware that history can be forgotten quickly, if we make no effort to remember.
Visitors at the first public event – I love how the “historic women” stand silently amongst the guests:
Die wenigen Fundstücke, die direkt auf die Frauen deuten, bestehen aus Resten von Kämmen. Durch die Kämme, die eingeschmuggelt oder vor Ort heimlich aus Produktionsmaterial hergestellt und versteckt werden mussten, haben die Frauen sich ein klein wenig ihrer Würde zurückerobert.
Mit dem Kunstwerk möchte ich den Frauen symbolisch die Achtung zukommen lassen,die sie damals nicht bekamen. Mein Wunsch ist es ihnen ein positives Andenken zu setzen, an dem man aber auch das durchgemachte Leid erkennt.
Angelehnt an die Fundstücke der oft zerbrochenen Kämme, die sich heute im Regionalmuseum befinden, stellen meine abstrakten Frauensilhouetteneine Verbindung zwischen Frauenkörper und Kamm her.
Diese etwa lebensgroßen, abstrakten Silhouetten erinnern an einfach erkennbare, weibliche (Ur)Figuren. Sie sind wie ein Kamm flach gehalten. Die Auflösung der Figur in die Zähne der Kämme deutet auf die Vergänglichkeit, das Leid und auch unsere verblichene Erinnerung an diese Frauen und ihr Schicksal hin.
Als erste Installation die am Waldbau Gedenkort errichtet wird sollen die Silhouetten neugierig machen und auch schon auf die Geschichte des Ortes hindeuten.
Initially I felt overwhelmed by the rainforest and how unfamiliar this environment was to me. I spent the first day getting to know the forest and made small, quick artworks to introduce myself to the forest and ask its blessings for me to work there.
Small creative offerings to Banco forest:
Following is a short meditation which I have written in my sketchbook on the first day in the Banco forest:
“Introducing myself to the forest.
A desert girl coming from the cold. Feeling fragile and overwhelmed. It is noisy. My headache is slightly better. I think it is raining. I can hear it, but not feel it.
I feel a lot of pressure. And some loneliness…
I must trust that Banco will also introduce itself to me. Open up and invite me in. Share its secret and let me know why I have come here. Why are we brought together?
I feel a certain sadness. I don’t belong. But that should be obvious. This is a foreign place. Africa, but far away from home.
I am here. In the rainforest. The lungs of Abidjan. The heart of the rain.
I am here for a reason.
To bring a gift and to receive some. As a pioneer. As a creator. As an African and a German – I meet in the middle (of my two homes).
I am coming to the source of the rain. To learn, to understand, to transform and be transformed.
There is something the forest needs from me. That is why I am here. I am open to all I can be and listening and feeling into what needs to happen.
Desert. Contained. In a rainforest.
I witness. I create. I play. I move. I am moved. “
By the end of the day the forest invited me to this space and I knew this is where I should start. A few initial ideas were considered and offered to the forest, but then discarded, when I realised it is not what wants to happen there.
Working with no plan and with this kind of careful dialogue with the nature around me is exciting and yet always a challenge too. I am challenged to trust, to become quiet, to hush my ego and to ignore my inner critic (and she is a real tough one).
The dialogue happens on a soul-heart basis. I imagine a next step and then feel it in my body. Does it feel good? Is there a YES? Are there any other images coming up?
As soon as there is a yes-feeling, I start with that step. Even though I usually do not know where the road leads to or how the final artwork will look like. I have learned, that the idea, which I form in my mind, of how it should be, usually gets tumbled over pretty quickly. Unless I try to hold onto it, then the artwork does not flow along, but gets sticky, like stepping into old bubblegum.
All the time I had this idea to work with clay. Yet, that did not want to happen. At least for now. The idea of a circle felt good, so I mapped it out with some fallen branches. Then I found more branches and thought, ok, I can just as well add them.
Part of the benefits of the AGA was, that there were several art students who would assist us artists with our work. Having an assistant, especially an enthusiastic and hard-working student, who is curious, open and friendly is a real blessing. I still had no idea where this will be going. Silue, my assistant, wanted to know what he can do. After asking him to wait a few times, I realised that I needed to just give him some task. So I asked him to collect some more branches.
And I too collected some more branches and slowly this nest-like structure grew. As I worked on it, I realised that not only is it positioned between 2 large trees and enveloped by their roots, but also that there is a small tree at the entrance to the ‘nest’. I also realised that one of the large trees was in actual fact dead.
While I placed the branches along the circle, I saw the resemblance to life: we are born (small tree) then grow up (large tree) and then die (second large, dead tree) and that this cycle continuous endlessly. That is how it got its title.
As I finished, I also noticed that during the two days working, I started to feel more at home and at ease in the forest. It was as if the forest has invited me to consider it as a friendly home, by allowing me to create this nest-like structure and protective circle.
I heard it whisper to me “Now you have a home in the forest too. When you are mindful, you recognise that you are part of nature and therefore always safe and protected. Similarly nature needs you to help raise the awareness, that this, our all home, needs to be protected too.”
View more works created during the Abidjan Green Arts Biennale HERE.
Kreis des Lebens – den Regenwald kennenlernen
Am Anfang fühlte ich mich überwältigt von dem Regenwald und wie fremd ich mich in dieser Umgebung fühlte. Den ersten Tag verbrachte ich damit den Wald zu erkunden und ein paar, kleine, spontane Arbeiten zu erschaffen um mich dem Wald vorzustellen und um seinen Segen zu bitten, damit ich dort arbeiten kann.
An dem Tag entstand auch der folgende meditative Text, den ich in mein Skizzenbuch notierte:
„Mich dem Wald vorstellen.
Ein Wüstenmädchen das aus der Kälte kam. Fühle mich zerbrechlich und ein wenig überfordert. Es ist laut. Meine Kopfschmerzen sind etwas besser geworden. Ich glaube es regnet. Ich höre es, aber fühle es nicht.
I spüre einen großen Druck. Und etwas Einsamkeit…
Ich muss Banco vertrauen, das er/sie sich mir vorstellt. Sich mir öffnet und mich einläd. Seine/ihre Geheimnisse mit mir teilt und mir zeigt warum ich hier bin. Warum wurden wir zusammengeführt?
Ich verspüre eine gewisse Traurigkeit. Ich gehöre nicht hier her. Aber das ist ja offensichtlich. Dies ist ein fremder Ort. Afrika ja, aber sehr weit weg von Zuhause.
Ich bin hier. In dem Regenwald. Die Lungen von Abidjan. Das Herz des Regens.
Es gibt einen Grund warum ich hier bin.
Um mein Geschenk zu bringen und etwas zu erhalten. Als Pionier. Als Schöpferin. Als Afrikanerin und als Deutsche – wir treffen uns in der Mitte (von meinen beiden Heimaten).
Ich komme zu dem Ursprung des Regens. Zu lernen, zu verstehen, zu verwandeln und verwandelt zu werden.
Es gibt etwas das der Wald von mir braucht. Darum bin ich hier. Ich bin offen für alles was ich sein kann, höre und fühle was passieren soll.
Wüste. Eingegrenzt. In einem Regenwald.
Ich beobachte. Ich schöpfe. Ich spiele. Ich bewege. Ich werde bewegt.“
Am Ende des Tages hat der Wald mich zu diesem, einen Platz geführt und ich fühlte hier soll ich anfangen. Ich hatte ein paar erste Ideen, die ich dem Wald anbot. Aber sie wurden verworfen, sobald ich merkte, das sie nicht passten.
Es ist spannend und gleichzeitig eine Herausforderung so ungeplant zu arbeiten und mich dabei auf einen sensiblen Dialog mit der Natur zu verlassen. Ich bin angehalten zu vertrauen und still zu werden, meinem Ego und inneren Kritiker auf stumm zu schalten. Gar nicht so einfach.
Dieser Dialog findet auf einer Herz-Seelen Ebene statt. Ich stelle mir einen möglichen nächsten Schritt vor und spüre dann in mich hinein. Fühlt es sich gut an? Ist da ein JA? Kommen irgendwelche anderen Bilder hoch?
Sobald ich ein JA-Gefühl habe, fange ich mit der Umsetzung des nächsten Schrittes an. Meist habe ich aber keine Ahnung wohin er führt oder wie das finale Kunstwerk aussehen soll. Ich habe gelernt, die Idee, die ich selber davon habe, was passieren soll, meist sehr schnell übern Haufen geworfen wird. Es sei denn ich halte zu stark daran fest, dann will es nicht fließen und die Arbeit wird zäh, als sei man in ein altes Kaugummi getreten.
Die ganze Zeit meinte ich, ich solle mit Ton arbeiten. Aber das wollte nicht passieren. Immerhin vorerst nicht. Die Idee eines Kreises lockte mich, also fing ich an, mit heruntergefallenen Ästen einen Kreis auf den Boden zu legen. Ich fand noch mehr Äste und legte sie auch auf den Kreis.
Einer der Vorzüge der AGA war, das es einige Kunststudenten gab die uns geladenen Künstlern assistieren sollten. Es ist wirklich ein Segen, einen Assistent zu haben, noch dazu jemanden, der enthusiastisch, fleißig, neugierig und offen ist. Allerdings wusste ich immer noch nicht was genau ich machen sollte und Silue, mein Assistent, wollte natürlich gerne etwas tun. Nachdem ich ihn einige Male gesagt habe, er solle einfach noch warten, bekam ich ein schlechtes Gewissen. Ich musste ihm eine Aufgabe geben. Also bat ich ihn, mir erst einmal noch Äste zu suchen.
So entstand langsam ein nestähnlicher Kreis. Während ich immer mehr Äste einbaute, merkte ich, das der Kreis zwischen den Wurzeln zweier großen Bäumen war. Außerdem stand ein kleiner Baum am sich entwickelnden Eingang zu dem Kreis oder Nest. Und mir wurde klar, dass einer der großen, starken Bäume eigentlich tot war.
So wie die Wände des Kreises wuchsen, verstand ich die Verbindung zum Leben: wir werden geboren (kleiner Baum), wachsen auf (großer Baum) und irgendwann sterben wir (zweiter großer, toter Baum). Dieser Kreislauf wiederholt sich unendlich. So bekam die Arbeit ihren Titel: Kreis des Lebens.
Nach vollendeter Arbeit fiel mir noch etwas auf. Während den zwei Tagen, in denen diese Arbeit entstand, fühlte ich mich immer mehr zuhause und wohl in dem Wald. Es war, als ob der Wald mich eingeladen hat, ihn als ein freundliches Zuhause zu erkennen, indem er mich dazu anhielt diese nestartige Struktur und einen schützenden Kreis um mich zu bauen.
Es war, als wollte er mir sagen: „Nun bist du auch im Regenwald zuhause. Solange du Achtsam bist, erkennst du dich als Teil der Natur und bist sicher und beschützt. Genauso brauche auch ich deinen Schutz und Hilfe diese Botschaft mit anderen zu teilen.
Hier sind weitere meiner Arbeiten die während der Abidjan Green Art Biennale entstanden sind zu sehen.
(*a woman, or a force personified as a woman, who is the source of inspiration)
Finally I am back in Germany and need to catch up on so much news to share with you! So, without further ado, I jump in with news from the Ukraine: On the 28th of September (while I was busy creating land art in South Africa) my public sculpture project “Three Young Muses” has been unveiled in Dnipro City.
I was invited by the German Consulate of Donezk and Artsvit Gallery to create a public artwork as a gift to the city. It was a challenging project, due to several logistical, time, budget and planning constraints, but with such a great team working together it all was successfully completed in time for the German Weeks. The artwork was installed opposite of the Yavornytsky National Historical Museum.
Three Young Muses, Art project of Artsvit Gallery and German Consulate of Donezk. Artist: Imke Rust
The Three Young Muses have been installed here to create a direct visual and conceptual link to the ancient Baba figurines. They are three young, modern-day women who relax on the grass of the park and contemplate the future.
In dialog with the ancient Babas, these young Muses hope to inspire modern society to re-embrace the female wisdom and power in order to balance the male and female energies in society. They also remind us that our generations are responsible to consciously envision and co-create our future.
Unlike their ancient stone counterparts, the Three Young Muses are made out of ash wood. Their wooden nature is symbolic for life, growth and transformation. The wood’s vulnerability and semi-permanent nature also represents our fast-paced modern times and reminds us to live in the present moment, as reality changes faster than ever. By focussing on the Now we have the power to determine and shape the future according to our highest vision. If you would like to know more about my thoughts behind this work, I have added some at the bottom.
A short video documentation about the Three Young Muses Art Project Video: Serge Ostrianyn, With the kind permission of Artsvit Gallery
I would like to thank the German consul Mr Mössinger and the team of the German Consulate of Donezk, Ms Iryna Polikarchuk, Director of the Artsvit Gallery and her team and the City of Dnipro for this opportunity. Also thank you to Bazarenko Yuriy (Architect), Serge Ostrianyn (Video), Vita Popova (Photos), Nikita Shalenny (Studio space) and Liosha (Assistance).
Some pictures (click on images to see a larger view):
Imke Rust working on the Three Young Muses
Imke Rust with the Three Young Muses in the studio.
Installing the bases
Insatllation of the 3 figures
Still hidden from view.
German Consulate Mr and Mrs Mössinger and Iryna Polikarchuk, Director Artsvit Gallery
Ms Iryna Polikarchuk, Director Artsvit Gallery, giving a TV Interview with the Baba Figures in the background
The Three Young Muses
More Info regarding the background of the Three Young Muses (if you are interested in the nitty-gritty details 😉 ):
Cooperation / Together we are stronger.
They are a small group of three women, named: Love, Hope and Gratitude. I believe that these three qualities are essential to our peaceful future.
The three women are also symbolic of the three backgrounds coming together in the creation of the sculpture through a German- Namibian artist creating in the Ukraine. Together we are stronger and the more we understand that there are no differences between people, no matter where they come from or who they are, the easier we can co-exist and co-create a better future for all. Each lady is symbolical for one of the three countries connected here: Ukraine, Germany and Namibia.
The third dimension – we do things in threes so they will manifest in our physical realm.
It’s roots stem from the meaning of multiplicity. Creative power; growth. Three is a moving forward of energy, overcoming duality, expression, manifestation and synthesis. Three is the first number to which the meaning “all” was given. It is The Triad, being the number of the whole as it contains the beginning, a middle and an end.
The power of three is universal. Body, mind and soul. Birth, life and death. Heaven, earth and hell. Three is a complete cycle unto itself. It is past, present, future.
There are three wishes, and in many fairytales there are three sisters…
Past, Present and Future
The Babas look towards the Three Young Muses and put their hope and expectations into the young generation, especially the women, to get engaged and empowered to change our destiny.
The viewer, when passing the Three Young Muses on the park walkway, will be located between the past (Babas) and the future (Three Young Muses), and will become the link, the present moment, which shapes our future. I hope that we learn from the past, but look towards the future.
Size and Material
The Three Young Muses are created only slightly larger than real-life women. I hope this invites people to engage on eye-level with the artwork and ideas behind it. Possibly to sit between or around these figures and get inspired…
I believe that unlike older, monumental public sculptures, which create a distance to the viewer, contemporary art should be more interactive and accessible. The size and the vulnerable material highlight these ideas.
When faced with the obvious ‘weakness’ of the material, the responsibility to treat these figures with respect and care now lies with each member of the public. It will be interesting to see, if and how people ‘accept this challenge’ of openly displayed vulnerability. Will they be treated according to our inherent deep-seated values towards women, art or public property? Can we trust each other with our vulnerability? Do we let ourselves be inspired by their openness, confidence and soft strength that these Muses display?
The choice of wood (symbolism of the Ash tree):
According to different sources that I found on the Internet, Ash wood is a symbol of healing and especially transformation and empowerment in matters of destiny.
It is also considered to be “the key to healing the loneliness of the human spirit, forming a link between the gods, humans, and the dead in the spirit world. Ash holds the key to Universal Truth and Cosmic Wisdom, and it takes on the important role as a Tree of Initiation.”
Relation to and inspiration by the stone Babas:
The specific form in which the Three Young Muses were conceptualised has been inspired by the Baba figures, of which I have read:
“A widespread form of sculptures were steles of a simplified anthropomorphic type that were formed of flat right-angled stone plates. Their lower part was not worked as it was meant to be dug into the ground, though they had carefully shaped shoulders and heads with well-carved facial characteristics. …
…are Polovtsian (Cuman) stone babas. There are about two thousand of them left. They are usually found in groups of 2 – 3 statues on the highest parts of steppe – on the sanctuaries of the funeral cult of ancestors. Polovtsian statues symbolized their ancestors and were not directly connected with the burial ritual.
… At the end of the century a visible simplification of form took place when the back of the statue was not decorated, also the details of haircuts and costumes were missing on the front side.
Were you also told not to play with your food as a kid?
Yesterday we had soup for lunch and we sprinkled lots of freshly picked parsley over it. It looked and tasted delicious – thanks to my husbands cooking skills. I did finish my soup and I did not play with it, but while we were still sitting and talking after the meal, I noticed the leftover stems from the parsley still lying next to my plate…
Five minutes later, I had these … and a big smile on my face.
Peeing Dog (Parsely stems and pencil)
Elk / Elch (Parsely stems)
Do you like my blogs? Great!
Would you mind to telling me what you like best about them? I am taking stock and considering how to continue. Would you like to read more about what I am busy with? See more art, maybe with less writing? Hear more about my thoughts, ideas and musings? Do you prefer shorter or longer posts, or does it depend more on the content? And would you like to hear more often from me, or less? Or any other construcitve criticism which you would like to share?
If you have a moment, I would love to hear from you why you are here, so that I can share with you more of the extra-special magic stuff that you like most about me and my blog.
The shoes you wear… and how they are connected to my art
Many years ago, back in my early student years, I had this really fun idea. Some found it a bit morbid, while others gave me worried looks… but I am used to that.
For some reason, I cannot remember exactly why, I chose to use shoes as my subject matter. Shoes as packaging of the human foot…. and packaging which eventually shapes its’ contents. Not being the biggest fan of high heeled shoes, I developed the idea of the high heeled shoe eventually shaping the foot, very similar to the old Chinese tradition of keeping women’s feet small and childlike, through tortuous means. (Ok, now I remember the reason…)
So this is how I imagined your foot would look like if you would continuously wear the common high heel shoe:
Sketch of horse-shaped foot by Imke Rust (c)
Different stages as documented in my sketchbook, eventually turning into a kind of horse-like hoof. (Mind you, horses are very elegant, so maybe nothing wrong with women striving to have feet like them?)
I even worked the idea into a life-size clay-sculpture (one of my first objects done in clay) based on one of the imaginary middle stages of the deformed foot:
And now the reason why I dug up these old sketches and the sculpture for you and why I am writing about it in my blog today: Recently I found this in the newspaper:
found in The Namibian 18 March 2011
I always like it, if I find that somebody’s thoughts, somewhere in the world, are similar to mine. Isn’t it amazing? And often with a tiny little envy I wonder why their thoughts make it to the newspapers, great art shows or into designer shops with huge price tags, and mine don’t….?
And I know the answer: because my sketches stay safely tucked away in my piles of sketch books, my sculptures are catching dust on my windowsill and my personal confidence still needs a lot of nudging and pampering and support before I can truly believe in myself and take my ideas and art work to the next level. And I also know: the idea was cool, but far away from resolved, my sketches were fun, but not great and my sculpture was a beginner’s object, which got damaged before it could ever be shown… fortunately I have come a long way since that horse foot idea.
Besides: the designer horse shoe idea is cool – but honestly: have you ever seen somebody walking around in those? Or are you secretly wishing you could afford such silly designer hooves yourself? Or know anybody who does? Naaah – me neither, but I know quite a few wonderful people, wearing comfy, good-looking shoes, who have my art on their walls or at least know somebody who does. And hey – you are reading my blog and not theirs! Da! ;o)
Thank you for your support of my art and ideas! And if you enjoyed this post or if you like my art or ideas, please subscribe to my blog and please recommend it to your friends. It would make my day!
Summer has arrived in Berlin, with lovely warmth and sunshine. So it is the ideal time to get out and make some art outside. As i still do not have a studio, working outside is another great way of being creative.
There is a small community park just around the corner from where we live, so while the others played Badminton I kept myself busy with this…
For a change, not so much text and rather more pictures. Enjoy!