Tag Archives: activism

Sowing Salt


Sowing Salt (Art Video / Performance )

Still image from ‘Sowing Salt’ (Art Video / Performance )

Have you ever sowed salt?

No? – Why would you?!?!

Any sane person would know that that would be futile and at the same time dangerous, poisoning and destroying your piece of soil.

But how often have you done something like sowing salt? Investing your energy (or money) and only later realising that you have done more harm than good? And how often did you do something stupid, because somebody told you that “that is what we have to do” or “It is a sure way to get rich (you can substitute ‘rich’ with whatever else you desire)”? I guess we all have at least once sowed salt and been utterly disappointed, asking ourselves why we did not think it through before we invested in an idea, and before it was too late…

It is up to us, to stop sowing salt. Stop whatever “get-rich-quick” scheme you are onto.First think your choices through to the end. Think about the larger picture and what impact it will have on others or your environment. If you are not sure, get informed and educate yourself. It is so easy in today’s world to have easy and free access to information. Share your knowledge and urge people to stop following “get-rich-quick” promises of their leaders. That way we can restore our earth and lives to its natural fertility and beauty.

In 2012 I have made a video art work / performance entitled: Sowing Salt. The work is a contemplation about people blindly following their leaders without questioning if it is right or wrong, and thinking about the long-term effects of their actions.

It was first shown as a video installation in December 2012 at my exhibition “…and I sensed an infinite scream passing through the Namib” (Swakopmund, Namibia). If you have missed the exhibition, you can now get a glimpse of this video work.

To get a brief impression of the original video installation, please follow the link below. In the exhibition the video continued in loop endlessly. Watch the video in the highest quality possible and remember to switch on the sound.

Sowing Salt Video

Sowing Salt (Video Installation, Swakopmund 2012)

Sowing Salt (Video Installation, Swakopmund 2012)

A Confession

I have a confession to make.
It involves hotel rooms, bad art and a developing compulsive (dis)order.

It started about 2 years ago. In a holiday bungalow in northern Germany…
I realized that every time I looked at the wall and the poor excuse-of-an-artwork hanging there, I became nauseous and my rebel soul escaped from its chains. It does not happen very often, but it has since become a serious addiction with a recognizable pattern.

Have you ever noticed the crap they hang on the walls in a room which, for a brief amount of time, is supposed to be your comfortable home away from home? A room which you usually pay a substantial amount of money for? And in my case, this money is hard-earned by producing and selling enough good art to be able to afford an occasional weekend away.

Ok, you might have not noticed. But that shall be forgiven, because usually it is so bland or so bad, that you might not even notice or remember it. But I started to feel really insulted. Usually the art they hang looks cheaper and more tasteless than the carefully selected rubbish bin in the same room.

Anyway. I just returned from a brief visit to Frankfurt. I was invited to attend the glamorous Live Entertainment Awards 2013 and accommodated in a nearby fancy hotel.

There it happened again.
Recognizing the pattern, I thought this time I rather confess straight away.

Our room on the 32nd floor was decorated with a digital print of some kind of old engraving, possibly showing an early view of Frankfurt. (There was no signature or any other information provided to trace the artwork to its original creator.) It was paced behind glass in a big golden frame and securely fastened to the wall with screws. Yes, screwed, as if the hotel worries that somebody will want to steal it?!? Ok, granted, the white pass-partout might have some kind of value on the recycling market for some poor artist…

The decoration in the hotel room... (or the "Before" picture)

The decoration in the hotel room… (or the “Before” picture)

I had to do something. Usually I never go anywhere without a small selection of essential art materials and tools, but this time I just grabbed a few pens and my sketchbook, not expecting much free time for creative adventures. Limitations often tickle me to become even more creative and soon I had a rough plan, fitting my ethics of doing as little harm as possible.

The unsuspecting hotel staff agreed to lend me a pair of scissors large enough to cut creative designs into the curtains. The hotel also provided me with a complimentary copy of a glossy magazine. Lastly I got a piece of double-sided tape from the team preparing the Frankfurt Festhalle for the LEA awards. Addicts like me, just know how to get their fix 😉

I am still not ready for the ‘show and tell’ part – please bear with me, this is not an easy confession, but I promise, it is serious fun.

Looking out of our window, we had a great view of Frankfurt am Main with its huge skyscrapers housing several large financial institutions and banks. Frankfurt a.M. is known as the financial hub of Germany, I am told. If there is something that gives me an even worse allergic reaction than bad art, it is the whole financial industry with their dubious systems and the way they rule the world.

Frankfurt am Main morning skyline view from our room

Frankfurt am Main morning skyline view from our room

With the banks in the back of my mind (even literally when I turned around from the window and looked at the artwork in our room), a magazine at hand, scissors and tape I was ready to spend the afternoon happily in our room. Much better than shopping or sight-seeing!

And now I let the pictures tell the rest:

Selecting pictures from the magazine - trying to find images that suit the original artwork in size and which add some thought-provoking content. Glad I found this one in a mag that mostly features fashion

Selecting pictures from the magazine – trying to find images that suit the original artwork in size and which add some thought-provoking content. Glad I found this one in a mag that mostly features fashion

Using the huge scissors to cut out the tiny figures was not an easy task

Using the huge scissors to cut out the tiny figures was not an easy task

The images were backed with double-sided tape

The images were backed with double-sided tape

and then carefully positioned and stuck onto the glass. (That way, it can easily be removed and I will hopefully  not have to face a 'Destruction of private property' charge.

and then carefully positioned and stuck onto the glass. That way, it can easily be removed and I will hopefully not have to face a ‘Destruction of private property’ charge.

And the results:

Hotel deco-busting collage 'Love and Devotion' by Imke Rust

Hotel deco-busting collage ‘Love and Devotion’ by Imke Rust (or the “After” picture)

Limited by the available images, materials and the fact that the decorative ‘artwork’ was behind glass and fastened to the wall, this was a great challenge, but I really like the result and think it worked out perfectly. (Thank you, dear universe, for always providing me with exactly what I need! 😉 )


Detail: centre of image with title of art work. Because the images are stuck onto the glass, they cast a shadow and the whole artwork gets a nice three-dimensional feel.

Only two images really worked for me with this picture, considering the size, colours etc., so I ended up with Chinese military procession and some models dressed in futuristic, Asian inspired fashion. While the soldiers looked quite informal, the models posed in an almost threatening and powerful way. So this work seemed to be headed into the direction of a subtle confrontation or battle. Possibly between the female and male powers? Or Europe and Asia? I was a bit apprehensive about displaying a battle or aggression, so I wanted to add some relief to this tense situation.

Detail of the deco-busting collage 'Love and Devotion' © Imke Rust

Detail of the deco-busting collage ‘Love and Devotion’ © Imke Rust

I found a speech-bubble with the text “We don’t want taxpayers having to save banks” and thought, that this statement suits my view, it would be a perfect cause for these ladies to protect and it would give the artwork a comic feel, making it a bit ‘lighter’, but still with a serious message. I also decided to give the work a title and place it in the middle of the pass-partout, like it was often done with old prints. From the limited text phrases available “Love and Devotion” seemed to be a perfect choice.

Detail of the deco-busting collage 'Love and Devotion' © Imke Rust

Detail of the deco-busting collage ‘Love and Devotion’ © Imke Rust

I then decided this should be a dialogue. If the female part is allowed to say something, then the male part will also get a voice. I found a tiny empty speech bubble in the hotel brochure and drew a heart in it and placed it above a smiling soldier…

And some more dialogue happens when you open the curtains and can see Frankfurt’s skyline with the building of the Deutsche Bank (amongst others) reflected on the image…

Reflections of the modern Frankfurt skyline on the altered image

Reflections of the modern Frankfurt skyline on the altered image

Finally the truth is out…

I love adding fun and value to the ‘artworks’ and decoration in hotel rooms or holiday apartments, and have done so on several occasions. I wish I could see the faces of the people who notice the interventions and know what they are thinking. I also wish I knew how long it takes the hotel staff to recognize the interventions and see what they decide to do about it. Hopefully it will put a smile on some people’s faces!

I plan to share some of my previous similar interventions with you too and hope that I can visit many more hotels or holiday apartments in the near future.

Screaming for the Namib (Part II)

After my last post, where I have shared a pretty cool and fun video of my art (inter)action “An infinite scream passing through the Namib“  (Click on the title to be taken to that post if you have missed it), I had a request to post some of the photographs which I took from the participants.

So here is a selection of some of my favorites: (to view the full image, please click on the thumbnail picture)

During the one hour before sunset we managed to get 18 people (all complete strangers except for my dad) to scream for us, even though they were all ‘silent’ screams.

Don’t these photographs make you feel like joining in the fun and scream?

Screaming for the Namib (Part I)

Today I have an extra-special treat for you:

Its video time!!!

For the first time I will share one of my art videos on my blog. I still must get around to update my webpage with pics and info about my latest solo exhibition for you, but till I get to do that, I thought of sharing the video “An infinite scream passing through the Namib” with you. The 4min video is a short documentation of an art action which I have done in Swakopmund in April 2012. It was publicly shown for the first time at my exhibition in December 2012 in Swakopmund. Guests of the exhibition loved this fun video so much, that I decided to share it with everybody on my blog too.

Me re-enacting the Scream by Edvard Munch on the Swakopmund Jetty.

Me re-enacting the Scream by Edvard Munch on the Swakopmund Jetty.

Here a short info what the whole art action is about:

In order to raise the local and global awareness about the dangers of the exploitation and destruction of the Namib desert and coastal area through mining and other proposed industrial developments, I initiated this public art action based on Munch’s painting “The Scream”. During the hour before sunset I asked passersby to re-enact the scene of the original painting to show their concern for our Namibian environment and have photographed their ‘screams’, while the whole action has been captured on film by Steffen Holzkamp of Onexa A+V.

In 2011 I have painted my own version of the Scream (you can see it here). Munch’s “Scream” painting has always reminded me of the jetty in Swakopmund where I grew up, and slowly the idea developed for this art action. The title came from what Munch has said about his inspiration for the painting.

“I was walking along a path with two friends—the sun was setting — suddenly the sky turned blood red — I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence —there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city — my friends walked on,and I stood there trembling with anxiety — and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.
Edvard Munch (1863-1944) about his work “The Scream (of Nature)

And here the video – Enjoy!

"An infinite scream passing through the Namib" 
Video, 3:57min, © Imke Rust
An Art Action by Imke Rust documented in video and photographs 
@ The Jetty, Swakopmund, Namibia. 17h00-18h00, 2 April 2012
Based on the artwork "The Scream" by Edvard Munch. 
Concept & Photographs: Imke Rust
Filming & Video: Onexa A+V

With special thanks to Martha, Makafa, Erson, Isabel, Brad, Britta, Lena, 
Luisa, Stefan, Jasoni, Helia, Elina, Burkart, Steffen, Armand, Logan, Ros,
George, Jan-Daniel and Janelle for your "screams" and Onexa A+V and the 
National Arts Council of Namibia for supporting this project

Also have a look at Part II to see some of the photographs taken during this action!

Did you like the video? Did it put a smile on your face? Or a new thought into your head? Does it inspire you to think of what you can do for the environment?

Then please share this post with your friends via Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or by email. And please show your support by leaving a comment or “Like” either here or on YouTube. Thank you!

My work on show at the ‘Our Coast Your Photo’ Exhibition

(Read right to the bottom, as there is a chance for you to win N$ 1000.00, too!)

In January Tony Figueira of Studio77and the Namibian Newspaper launched a photographic competition “Our Coast Your Photo” in an attempt to highlight the concern about the coastal environment in light of the proposed industrial & mining plans….


From the close to 600 entries a selection of about 50 photographs, plus the top category entries, will be exhibited. The winning photograph will be announced at the opening of the Swakopmund exhibition on 31 March, and this person will walk away with the N$10 000 in cash.The judges of the competition are Amy Schoeman, Roy van der Merwe and Taimi Shejavali.

I participated in this competition, because I believe strongly that we all need to get involved to protect our environment and what better way for an artist to use their art? And this particular subject matter bothered me some time ago and I actually just had finished some work, which I thought would be perfect for this competition. And why this is even more exciting? I have been told that I am one of the finalists….*blush*

So all you lovely people, if you happen to be in Windhoek or Swakopmund at those dates, come to the opening and support this great cause! I would love to see you all there and I am sure there will be many exciting works on show. If you cannot make it for the openings, well, there is more time to view the shows afterwards too, so don’t miss it.

And there is another good reason to go and view the exhibition:

The Organizers have now compiled the top photographs for each category, and are inviting the public to predict the winner in each category via SMS! The person who predicts the correct photographs in all the categories, will stand a chance to win N$1000! For those of you who are not in town, these photographs will be available as from 8 March 2012 on the website of The Namibian Newspaper and the Facebook site for the competition.

Looking forward to seeing you either in Windhoek or Swakopmund. And keep watching this space – I will post some pics of my artworks after the opening.