Tag Archives: activism

Creating Elephants (from Mosquitos)

Remember my Hotel-Deco-Busting series?

And the work: ‘Wie man aus Mücken Elefanten macht? / How to Make Elephants out of Mosquitos’?   (Click on the link to read more about it.)

How to make elephants out or mosquitos. (Before and After)

A friend has recently been residing in exactly that holiday flat, where it was made in 2015. He has kindly sent me an update.

Well, my Mosquito Elephants Intervention has been replaced by a more realistic painterly impression of an elephant and baby….

Elephant with baby (Unknown Artist)

So, now you know. This is how to turn mosquitos into elephants… (even if not real live elephants). My intervention has been noted by the owners. And there has been an improvement from the cut-out calendar page photograph to a ‘commercial painting’. Great!

I am very curious if the choice for the elephant picture was accidential or intentional? And I wonder what they did with my altered artwork? Thrown it away? Kept it?

And…..

there was a kind hand-written note asking to please do not paint on the ‘pictures’. The German word ‘Bilder’ can be understood either as artwork or as pictures in general. I guess by putting it into hyphens, they have become aware that there is a difference between art and deco.

Kind note: Please do not paint on the ‘pictures’. Thank you!

This all reminds me, that it has been too long since I have been on holiday or spending time in a hotel or holiday apartment for other reasons… 😦

 

Wuppertal, Munich and Travelling Back in Time

Do you also have the feeling that your life has become so busy, that you have no time for all the stuff you want to do? Or to read all the blogs you are subscribed to?

The first quarter of the year is almost passed and somehow I have neglected my blog. Well, many things are happening and keeping me busy – which is mostly good news. Another reason is that with so many things, which are happening on all fronts (personal, family, political, career etc), I am left with so many impressions, thoughts, ideas, questions… It feels as if I have so much to say and to share, and yet I do not know where to start. It feels as if I would need another lifetime to sort all ideas and find the right way to share them. Or a personal assistant… Or a way to magically write down all that is in my mind within a few hours.

So I am trying to navigate these times, which feel chaotic and alive, terrifying and promising at the same time, as best and honestly as I can. To live each moment more consciously and deliberately waiting to find clarity, allowing life to unfold its plan at its own pace. I am considering writing shorter, but more frequent blogs… let’s see if that is a better way to deal with my and your busy life and still stay in touch.

A quick update:

My exhibition in Munich has just finished. It was very well visited and the highlight was, that a friend has organised for me to fly to Munich and talk about my art to interested guests in a guided tour of my exhibition. I really enjoy that direct contact with the people who are interested my art. Most of my art is filled with layers of meaning and thoughts, and people have commented how enriching they find to look at the art, and then additionally hear me talk about it.

Here are a few impressions from the exhibition and the guided tour (Click on the images for a larger view and description):

The event has been organized by Carola von Maltzahn from http://www.vonmaltzahn.net/ and Christian Bräuer from Art Dine & Table – Die Kunstpatrouille (www.christian-braeuer.de) Photos: Carola von Maltzahn.

I had another exhibition opening in March, at the Museum auf der Hardt, Wuppertal.

The exhibition and screening of the documentary film about my land art project ‘An Infinite Scream’ was part of a Symposium organized by the Vereinte Evangelische Mission.

Here are some images from the exhibition, opening and film screening. Photos by Ramona Hedtmann, VEM and myself.

Only shortly before the event, I realised that I have a much deeper connection to this museum and place than I could have imagined. My Great-Great-Grandfather Eduard Dannert and Great-Grandfather August Kuhlmann were both missionaries in Namibia and were sent by this very same institution to Africa. Needless to say, the museum and archives have lots of information, documentation and objects from these ancestors of mine, like for instance the sewing machine of my Great-Grandmother… and this sewing machine, together with a letter which August Kuhlmann wrote to General von Trotha trying to convince him to treat the Herero people more humanly were exhibited in the same space, next to my political works. What an honour and humbling experience.

If you happen to be in Wuppertal, you are welcome to view the exhibition. It is still on till the 4th of April. More information, directions and opening times: http://www.vemission.org/museumarchive.html

I am so excited that spring seems to have finally arrived! After so much political art and talk, I felt like painting something light and colourful, to welcome spring.

Finally! A new year, a new blog post and an important event to announce!

Firstly I wish you all a very happy, adventurous, creative, healthy and awesome 2016!

I hope this will be the year where you make your dreams come true, create the reality that you want to see and find joy and gratitude in your everyday life. That is my motto, not only for the New Year, but for every new day. And added to that, I want to push myself every day to creatively and fearlessly express who I am. How about you? What are your visions and desires for 2016?

I have been quiet on the blog for some time… I am spending time at home in Namibia, with my family, meeting friends, relaxing and creating. Basically replenishing my soul and soaking up the sunshine, warmth and familiarity of home.

Clarissa, my cat, inspecting the last painting I have done in 2015 - an impression of a wild mongoose who visits us daily.

Clarissa, my cat, inspecting the last painting I have done in 2015 – an impression of a wild mongoose who visits us daily.

Home. Returning to Namibia after almost two years of absence has stirred my mind and body in interesting ways. I realise that finally our house in Germany feels more like a home to me, while Namibia and my family home here, where I have spend so many years of my life, has moved into an uneasy place of feeling powerfully familiar and at the same time somewhat distanced. Things have changed, things have stayed the same. I have changed and grown. I am curious to see how my life and I will evolve in the future.

You can view some of my everyday impressions from Namibia on my instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/imkerust/

And as promised an event announcement:

Finally we will be presenting ‘An Infinite Scream’ – my husband, Steffen Holzkamp’s documentary film about my land art project – in Namibia! On home turf so to say.

It took some time before Namibians can finally see the film and obviously I am curious and nervous as to how it will be received. So I (and Steffen) hope that if you are in Windhoek on the 14th of January you will join us at 19h15 at the Goethe Institut. (it is FREE!!!)

By the way, Namibia only had a Goethe Centre up till now, but since 2016 everybody is very excited to have it turned into a Goethe Institut. We feel very honoured that one of the first official events in the new Institut will the Namibian Premiere of our film.

Why would you see the film? Well, if you are interested in nature, environment, the desert, Namibia and/or the arts, or if you simply like me or what I am doing, then this film offers you a unique and thought-provoking view. Some serious and some fun.

It is more than a documentary.

It is an artist portrait and a project portrait. It is a reflection on what individuals can do to make the world a slightly better place. It is a beautiful mix of art, nature, society and action…

Most people only ever see the final exhibition and have no idea how it came about. If you have ever wondered how artists think, why and how they create and all the things that happen behind the scene, before you get to sip your wine at the exhibition opening, this film will give you a lot of insight into my personal way of creating.

I know I might be biased in more than one way, but I do think there is a certain magic happening when you have a very talented filmmaker and musician, who happens to know you well enough to perfectly reflect your ideas and works through his film.

This film was not planned to be a film. When I started out with my work, I simply thought it would be awesome to have the making of the individual pieces documented and fortunately Steffen was happy to do that for me. Only later, when the exhibition finally happened, after the original venue had suddenly rejected it, Steffen had the idea to turn all his filmed material into a documentary… and spend about a year on this labour of love. Thank you so much, Steffen, for all your hard work and dedication, for your beautiful pictures, music and your vision to pull this all together.

So if you are curious, we warmly invite you to come and see it.

It is not only free of charge, but you also get the chance to meet up with us and ask us questions afterwards 🙂

We are looking forward to meeting you there.

Please also feel free to share this information and invite your friends along. After all, the more the merrier.

Namibia Premiere: An Infinite Scream (Poster)

Namibia Premiere: An Infinite Scream (Poster)

Concerned about the ever-increasing uranium mining in Namibia a local artist sets out to give the Namib Desert a voice: An Infinite Scream

The Goethe Institut proudly presents the Namibian Premiere of a documentary film about Imke Rust’s land art by Steffen Holzkamp.

Date: 14th of January 2016
Time: 19h15 (Duration: 45min)
Venue: Goethe Institut, 1-5 Fidel Castro Street
Free Entry
Artist and filmmaker are present.

Trailer and more info at: https://aninfinitescream.wordpress.com/

 

Interview about my Environmental Art

Some time ago I was approached to have some of my artworks published in a book, entitled ‘Temperatures Rising – Climate Change in Africa – a Journey in Pictures’. The book will be produced for the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to be presented to the delegates and guests of the COP21 conference next week.

The consultant responsible for the book, Ms Asieh L Nassehi Javan of Concept2art in Torino, Italy, asked me to submit several suitable artworks of mine and has interviewed me about my art. One artwork was selected for illustration of the book, while it will also be printed as a poster to be presented in the African Pavillion. I am so honoured and excited!

I thought you might enjoy reading the interview and get to know more about my ideas behind my art, so I am sharing it with you here:

ANJ: What is the role of an artist? As an educator? As someone who makes people aware of issues? A critique? An agent of change?

IR: All of these. I believe different artists have different and often several roles, which together shape our (human) identity and future.

Personally I see my role in offering an alternative perspective on the world and our perceived reality, and offer possible creative solutions to problems affecting us. Part visionary and part agent of change. A little bit like the shaman or rainmakers in old cultures, who through their ritual and creative expression raise awareness and envision and enact a new, better reality.

ANJ: How do you define your art? 

IR: I work in a wide range of media, dependent of the concept or vision for the artwork. My work cannot be defined by putting it into a box. Roughly I would say it is a mix between creative, visual expression, alchemy, magic and spirituality, often with a sprinkle of playfulness.

It is a flowing process between all these layers, always conscious about trying to make a positive impact and slightly changing our perceived reality.

ANJ: What inspires you to create works that address hurting the Environment/Climate change? 

IR: My works usually starts when I notice something, which stirs me emotionally. Often these are situations which I find frustrating or problematic, so I start to wonder what could be changed and how.

Namibia is a dry country with two large deserts. We are extremely dependent on rain for survival, but also on managing our natural resources well. I try to find different ways to feel less helpless when it either does not rain or when I see great damage being done to our environment. I love researching and experimenting with really alternative ideas, because I believe often the mainstream ideas are what brought us the problems in the first place.

As an artist, my purpose is to use my art to make the world a better place. Others have different purposes. Like my father, who is a farmer and an engineer, so he tries to find agricultural ways to positively impact the environment, for instance through Holistic Resource Management. I learned much from him, but was also frustrated, that still we are dependent on the rain and that rainfall cannot be controlled. So I ask myself is this true? Why does almost every ancient culture across the world a belief in a rainmaker or a rain dance? And how could I combine my art, my knowledge and research and my spiritual beliefs to at least consider the possibility of having an impact on the rainfall?

ANJ: Is there an experience, instance or event that led you to create works about the environment?

IR: As an art student I had no money for art materials and usually in Namibia traditional art materials were either not available or extremely expensive. So I started to look around to find alternative materials to use, which I could gather for free.

So early on I noticed the abundance and usefulness of the environment for my art. Through that, and the fact that I grew up on a farm, it was a natural next step to pay closer attention to the environment and realize our connection to it more deeply.

My artworks from the series ‘…and I sensed an infinite scream passing through the Namib’ started from seeing the increased damage of more and more uranium mines and connected industries on the environment. Other people were demonstrating to stop the mines and I asked myself how I could personally contribute, since demonstrating was not my thing. I looked for ways in which I could address the problem and create solutions in my own way.

ANJ: Can you elaborate on the art works you are submitting? What are the messages they aim to send and to whom are the messages directed?

IR:  Rainmaker:

Rainmaker (Masking Tape on Rock, temporary intervention)

Rainmaker (Masking Tape on Rock, temporary intervention)

All over the world the old cultures had shamans who were known to be able to create rain, either through dance, music or rock-paintings. From my research I construed that the creative act combined with a focused intention can create a different energy or vibe and thus change the perceived reality.

Since then I have experimented with different methods of using my art to hopefully ‘make rain’. This specific work creates a vision of the reality we intend to see, in a similar way that the old inhabitants of Namibia would have used to attract animals for a good hunt. I have made several different artworks or experiments researching different approaches.

The message is two-fold: it tries to remind people to focus on the rain and not the drought, and secondly open people up to the idea, that there may possibly be alternative ways to see the world and to impact the reality around us. I cannot say for sure this way does work, but by trying it out, I hope it encourages other people to also try out alternative ideas, even though they might appear silly or ridicules. Through actively taking charge, and playfully experimenting with different things, we might find new solutions. (Find out more about my rainmaker experiments by clicking here.)

 

Earth Woman:

Desertification and erosion in Namibia is becoming an increasing threat, which is to a large extend a result of us not taking proper care of the environment. I found these deep erosion cracks and I wanted to use the human, female body and the naked skin to highlight this problem and to make us aware that the soil of the earth is like our skin and equally vulnerable and in need of care and attention.

We are intimately connected to the soil and our destiny is so closely linked to that of our environment. These works allure to this and the birth, life and death cycle, which starts and ends with the earth. ( For more work from this series, click here. )

Works like the Tokoloshe Trap acts in my usual multi-layered way. It tries to use the spiritual intention and activated energy, the shapes and material to protect the land in a spiritual way, but it also lets people see a familiar environment in a different and unexpected way. I hope this will let them pause and become more aware, start wondering and asking questions. I also hope it works via a physical experience: any Namibian knows from personal experience how painful it is to step into one of those thorns. Seeing so many of them arranged as a kind of trap, usually lets us cringe, while we imagine stepping into it. (More about this artwork: click here)

An Infinite Scream

In this documented performance-like action I asked passers-by to re-enact the famous painting ‘The Scream’ from Edvard Munch, on the Swakopmund jetty. Munch claimed that he sensed the angst and scream of nature, which led to this painting. Be re-enacting this scream, the people give an expression to the fears about the destruction of our environment. The resulting images and video raise awareness in a fun way. (More about this intervention: click here. and to see a super fun short video about it: click here)

An Infinite Scream Public Intervention

An Infinite Scream Public Intervention

Dorob (NOT) 4Sale

This anonymous intervention used a tongue-in-cheek way to get people’s awareness about the sale-off of our natural resources. Fake estate agent for-sale signs were placed at prominent places along the main roads leading through the Namib desert, with messages that our desert and ocean are (NOT) for sale. The provided telephone number and Web address lead to further information and links to environmental initiatives. (More about this intervention: click here. )

 

Hand-painted Photographs of the Namib Desert

While I was in Berlin, I heard about the plans to build a large chemical plant in the Namib Desert. I imagined what the desert around that plant would look like, if the waste is not properly managed, like so often before or if something unforeseen happens. I painted these scenarios onto photographs of the desert. Later, when I returned to Namibia I used the ideas from the photos for temporary land-art installations.

Toxic Rocks & Poisonous Water

The neon paints might initially give the landscape a funky and modern look, which is quite pleasing, until we notice that this is not natural and healthy. I hope to make people understand that we have to take a second look and consider the different realities behind a situation. Yes, a chemical plant might bring job opportunities, but also illnesses and destruction to the environment. Only when we consider all aspects, can we make a good choice. What looks pretty at first, might turn out to be nasty in the long-run. (More about this artwork: click here and here.)

 

AJ: Could your art, even though its related to Africa, reflect the global narrative?

IR: Definitely! When I started off with my career, I thought I am working on personal issues which are directly connected to myself and my home-country. I very soon realized, that once you scratch under the surface, we are all human and have the same hopes and fears. Situations and patterns are so similar all over the world, but we are often too distracted to notice, because we focus on the thin superficial differences.

Not all countries are desert countries, but still we all are exposed to and dependent on our environment. A country with plenty of water also needs to manage their resources. They might not need a rainmaker, but through my artwork they could feel inspired to play with alternative ways of interacting with and caring for their environment, and minimize the danger of floods for example.

ANJ: Do you have any comments you would like to add? 

IR: Thank you so much for your interest in my work and this opportunity to make it visible to more people worldwide.

Imke Rust busy installing 'Poisonous Water'

Imke Rust busy installing ‘Poisonous Water’

Thank you Ms Nassehi Javan for letting me share our interview here! It has been such a pleasure getting to know you and working with you.

Selfie Life – Hotel Deco Busting

Intervention Against Tasteless Wall Decorations in Hotels and Holiday Apartments. (Part 17)
Intervention gegen geschmacklose Wanddekoration in Hotelzimmern und Ferienwohnungen. (Teil 17)

Since 2010 I have secretly been slightly altering tasteless or boring hotel or holiday apartment art whenever I had the chance to.

I still have not shown you all the Hotel Deco Busting projects I did during our holiday in August… So here, without further ado another one, called Selfie Life.

While walking on the beach with a beautiful sunset, we noticed how every second person was frantically at work to get the perfect sunset picture with their phones. And obviously there were several with those weird selfie sticks, making sure they were in the sunset picture too.

Somehow it felt as if we were the only ones who were present in the ‘here and now’ and actually could fully enjoy the sunset, feel grateful for our beautiful holiday, take a deep breath of the salty sea breeze, smile and just be content… I wondered if the other people, taking photogrpahs actually noticed or felt any of what we did? I hope inbetween taking photos they did.

So this was the inspiration for this hotel deco busting intervention… Our holiday bungalow had a wide variety of wall decorations. All old pages from calendars, all in cheap frames, and this particular one was not even covered with glass… so easy work for me.

Selfie Life (After) I have added the imaginary experience and perspective of a woman taking selfies of her beach holiday to share on her social media.

Selfie Life (After) I have added the imaginary experience and perspective of a woman taking selfies of her beach holiday to share on her social media.

(please click on the images below to see the full picture.)

If you enjoyed this, you can view more Hotel Deco Busting Interventions Hotel Deco Busting Interventions by Imke Rust.

Mixed Media Artworks from my Land Art Project

I realised that I have never put up my mixed media artworks from my land art project on my webpage…

So let me share some of the works and the thoughts behind them with you today!

 

This artwork is called ‘What will be left’

All currently awarded mining licences were cut out from a tourist map, to make the actual impact visible. Not all licenses will be used immediately or at all, but companies would not pay for such licenses if they did not have the intention of using it sooner or later. Also many of the areas are awarded more than once, for instance for diamonds and for nuclear fuels at the same time.

(This information can be found on the webpage of the Ministry of Mines & Energy of Namibia).

Open Pit Near You Photo of the Namib Desert, acrylic, cardboard (Recycled), wood glue 14,7 x 19,7 x 1,7cm

Open Pit Near You
Photo of the Namib Desert, acrylic, cardboard (Recycled), wood glue
14,7 x 19,7 x 1,7cm

From photographs which I took of the Namib desert I cut out an ‘open-pit mine’.

Concessions Areas 2 Digitally manipulated photo of the Namib Desert Digital print on photo paper 15 x 20cm Numbered Edition

Concessions Areas 2
Digitally manipulated photo of the Namib Desert
Digital print on photo paper
15 x 20cm
Numbered Edition

Concessions Areas 1 Digitally manipulated photo of the Namib Desert Digital print on photo paper 15 x 20cm Numbered Edition

Concessions Areas 1
Digitally manipulated photo of the Namib Desert
Digital print on photo paper
15 x 20cm
Numbered Edition

Most of the Namib desert is sliced up into different concession areas for mining purposes, awarded by the government to interested parties, very often foreign companies. Once again I used my photographs and imagined what it would look like, if we could see these areas while we are in the desert.

Repeating History (Maharero & Leutwein) Ball-point pen on magazine image 27,5 x 43cm

Repeating History
(Maharero & Leutwein)
Ball-point pen on magazine image
27,5 x 43cm

There is a pretty famous old photograph of the Herero Chief Samuel Maharero and Governor Leutwein. Samuel Maharero has sold off much of the land of his people to the Germans for very cheap in return for being helped to fight the Herero people who did not accept him as chief.

I used this photograph as a reference and drew the people into a modern-day setting (an interior from a magazine) as I imagine similar dubious and far-reaching deals are happening still today, especially in awarding mining concessions.

The problem with selling off our countries resources in such a big way, is that we will never be able to get them back. Once they are depleted, they are gone forever and we are left with big scars in the earth and probably a lot of pollution.

Fata Morgana Welwitschia Acrylic and pencil on canvas 15 x 20cm

Fata Morgana Welwitschia
Acrylic and pencil on canvas
15 x 20cm

Or: Not everything that shines is gold…

I guess only Namibians will understand this work immediately. The Welwitschia is a unique plant found in the Namib desert. An abstract representation has been used as decoration for the statehouse’s fence. The golden Welwitschia decoration is made by North-Koreans and it is not cast in metal, but in plastic.  The statehouse has been the source of much dispute, since it was build mostly by foreigners and at a huge cost to the nation. The lavishness and pomp and huge expense feels like a laugh in the face of all the Namibian people who are living in real poverty with no roofs over their head.

Also, the Welwitschia is a special ancient, protected plant found in the desert and just like the minerals, metals and nuclear fuels which can be found here, I feel that our government would sell it off to some foreign investor without further thought, if they were offered the faintest promise of getting rich quick.

If you would like to see some more works from this project, please visit this LINK.

Storms pass

All storms pass... even shit-storms. © Imke Rust

All storms pass… even shit-storms. © Imke Rust

Recently I experienced my very first ‘shit-storm’ on Facebook, after uploading a controversial design which I made in order to raise awareness about the auctioning of a permit to hunt the very endangered black rhino. 

I do not want to go into a discussion about the image or reasons or thoughts about it, but rather on something that I have learned in the past years. Things change, always. Bad times pass and so do good times.

You might be scared, angry, upset, frustrated, wronged… whatever… but this too, shall pass. Give it some time, some kindness and some love. And in the end the storm will pass.                                          All storms pass. Always.

And usually they will present you with gift of the most beautiful rainbow afterwards…. 🙂 🙂

I was so grateful that I had learned this. So while the shit-storm was happening, I could calmly sit back, smile, enjoy a good cup of coffee and watch it unfold. I have made my art, I have shared it and I even have explained it. Nothing more for me to do, except believe in who I am.

Many people liked it, and many understood it, so I knew that I was not totally off-track. The ones that did not understand, felt offended and had to argue on and on, I would probably never be able to convince otherwise. And that is not my job, anyway. So, after I made sure that I did answer politely and ensured that there is no real serious miscommunication on my side, I could let it go.

And rather focus on all the lessons, which it had taught me or reminded me of in such a clear way. Just as clear as the rainbow in the picture, which I photographed last year at the Waterberg, after one of the most spectacular storms and rain showers.

And I could use that energy to create something new. Like this wisdom blurb. 😉

Wishing you calmness and confidence to pass through your storms and the most spectecular rainbow at the end of every storm to remind you how strong and beautiful and loved you are!