World Heritage Scholarship, Hälsingland, Sweden
Drawing Certainty from the Spring of Doubt is a site-responsive installation by Imke Rust created for the World Heritage Scholarship 2021 in Hälsingland, Sweden.
Inspired by the World Heritage sites of the decorated farmhouses of Hälsingland and Twyfelfontein (/Ui-//Aes or /Ui-//Ais) in Namibia, a derelict hut has been transformed into a mythical world where the essences of both places correspond to and with each other.
While both sites are unique and separated by vast distance and time, they both bear witness to the global human need to creatively express and modify our surroundings to create the illusion of alternative realities.
The farmers of Hälsingland painted the walls of their festivities houses to create a sense of the unattainable luxury of marble, fine silk wallpaper and teak wood. Many years before that, the creators of the rock-engravings at Twyfelfontein depicted stories of attaining animalistic-magic powers during trance and ritual dance, on the rock faces around an (unreliable) spring in Namibia.
The creative interventions have charged the space with several layers of meaning, giving the viewer a mixed sense of recognition and mystery. Found materials are interwoven with images of Namibian fauna and Swedish flora, creating new narratives and reflecting on the creative spirit through time and space.
From the outside the inconspicuous hut appears abandoned and derelict, but once you enter, it has been transformed into a world of its own. The hut has two rooms. For my installation, I have called the first room ‘The Shaman’s Hall’. It is a colourfully decorated space, the wooden walls have been covered with hand-painted ‘wall-paper’ – designed from elements of Twyfelfontein (mostly fauna) and the Hälsingland farmhouses (mostly flora). The design is stencilled on found telephone book pages from 1966.
The centre-piece is a wooden children’s chair, suspended in the middle of the room above a white circle painted on the floor. It is an allusion to the belief that the Twyfelfontein shamans could float above the ground during their ritual dances. On the chair is another circle, this time made of tiny stones with engraved African figures.
Another dominant feature is the old, oversized, metal water tap found in the room, which creates a direct link to the spring/fountain of Twyfelfontein or /Ui-//aes, as it was originally known.
Following are some impressions of the Shaman’s Hall (first room).
The Shaman’s Hall
The second room is called the Bride’s Chamber. The Hälsingland festivities houses were mainly used for weddings and usually had a special bride’s chamber. This room was covered in old, white wallpaper, torn at places to reveal older layers of wallpaper with blue flower design and old newspaper.
In this room I have ‘married’ found natural and man-made materials into objects, which each tell their own story about correspondence between objects, places and people. There is also a white self-portrait printed on the raw wooden wall, seemingly looking between the layers of time and space.