Tag Archives: desert

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/

 

Feeling the Drought in Me

'I am Desert' by Imke Rust

‘I am Desert I’ by Imke Rust (Photography, Digital print on Alu-Dibond)

There is a blurring, hot tension in the air. Even though I am not there, I am so familiar with this situation that my body physically reacts to it every time I think about it or remember the many years of experiencing this same intense and ominous collective fear of an upcoming drought.

I feel how this fear increases with every day in which the sun burns from the bluest skies with no cloud in sight. I feel the heat and the dust and the lack.

The lack of everything…

lack of aliveness and lack of hope.

I can taste the dryness.

But mostly I feel the silent terror and doom hanging in the air like an invisible monster.

I have experienced the impact of a serious drought. And I have experienced the fear oozing out of every wretched discussion, which repeatedly circled around the drought and the rain like a starving dog tied to a tree sniffing some fresh meat in the distance.

The elderly compared and remembered the many droughts they have experienced and seemed to revel in reciting their horrors. The younger, who could not rely on memories that much, were more likely to speculate according to the weather forecasts, the dreaded El-Niño phenomena or any other scientific statistics or findings. I remember these discussions as mostly negative, fearful and resigned, sometimes angry and usually interrupted only with long heavy pauses, knowing glances and deep sighs. For one or other reason, everybody seemed to know that we would be doomed with another great drought, as if by stating the worst that can happen, we are bracing ourselves for it. The few hopeful voices in between quickly got lost or talked into submission.

This fear and the helplessness have crept into my bones. As a child I listened to all these discussions in the hope that somewhere some one would have a solution or know for sure what is going to happen. Will it rain?

Hoping to find somebody who could say: it is going to be okay, even if it doesn’t. Even as a child I knew, that no matter what people said, the rains are not always forthcoming, that is just part of living in a desert country. So I hoped to find some way of creating hope and faith that the natural order of things are okay…

The older I became, the more resigned I became. I had accumulated more experience with dry years, with droughts and the impact it had on our life.

Yes, I fear the droughts. Deeply. But I came to fear one thing even more: the continuous doom saying and negative speculating that happens throughout the year, but increasingly in the rainy-season, when this seems to be the only topic on everybody’s minds. And the feeling of helplessness.

Sure, when the rains come and when they are good, we all are grateful for a moment, only to easily and quickly forget our moaning and return to life as we know and want it.

When the rains do not come, or let us wait too long, we are spiralling down into an ever darker abyss of fear, lack and death. I came to think of this as natural, but when I became more aware of physically experiencing the discomfort of cringing cells in my body whenever I think about this, I started to question what is happening. Even more so, when I realised that even far away from home, in Germany, I am not immune to this.

What is natural is that we are living in a very dry country – in Namibia, named after one of the oldest deserts, with unpredictable and variable rainfall. What (according to me) is not natural is how we deal with it.

I understand the fear, because I feel it too. But I refuse to believe that this deep fear and immense sense of being helpless at the hands of the weather is necessary, natural or useful. I also feel that the relentless doom-mongering and negativity is the worst way of expressing this fear or avoiding the situation.

This constant distress is killing our souls and we have let the drought creep into our hearts and veins.

I started thinking about the ancient San people in Namibia and then also about so many different ancient cultures, maybe the most well-known being the American Indians. All people throughout history were exposed to the unpredictability of the weather and to extreme conditions, droughts, floods, raging storms and endless freezing winters. Maybe it is idealistic of me to assume that the people long ago had a better relationship to the woes of the climate and nature, but from the stories that we have from that time, I am sure they knew something, which we have lost.

I guess the core difference is that they lived with deep respect and reverence towards nature and understood the importance of a healthy give-and-take relationship with everything around them. They understood themselves as a small part or children of this much larger Mother Earth.

We on the other hand have come to view ourselves as masters of the earth. We believe it is our birth-right to exploit any natural resources, to take without giving and separate and put us above the rest of nature.

We have made man the centre of the universe and profit our highest and only purpose.

Every time a drought looms, we are uncomfortably reminded, that we are not the masters of this universe. Our presumed intelligence, scientific and technological advancements and our arrogance all are futile, when the environment stops supporting us. When earth stops to produce new resources. When earth dries up and shrivels under our endless and greedy exploitation.

We are at the mercy of a benevolent environment and we are part of everything that happens. The old people understood that, we don’t.

With every drought we get angrier and more fearful. People like farmers who live closer to nature feel it first and the most intense, while others can ignore it for longer, as they have already distanced themselves so much from nature. Their money can still buy food, when the animals and plants on the farm already starve, but eventually their money also will have nothing left to buy.

What if we all would be willing and open to rethink the possibility living more in tune with nature again? Before nature forces us to. What if we would stop investing our energy in complaining and doomsaying and instead find better ways of prepare and deal with reality?

'I am desert II' by Imke Rust

‘I am desert’ by Imke Rust
Photography, Digital print on Alu-Dibond

I refuse to believe that we are separate or above nature. And I refuse to believe that we are powerless. Not only should we honour and respect mother earth, but we should accept the responsibility that comes with it. If we understand that we are but a small part of the whole, yet we are an important and powerful part.

If we would see us as the hand of a person, we would understand that the hand is subjected to what the body does, but at the same time, it also has an important purpose and function. It is powerful in its own right, but not of its own. It needs the body. And the body needs the hand. The hand cannot complain that it is starving, if it refuses to act in its power and pick the fruit and bring it to the mouth.

My research and exploration into old rainmaking traditions have shown me, that we have the answers and the power of our destiny within us. Yes, there are forces larger than us, but we are part of those, and thus we also can have an impact.

Rainmaking has become synonymous to me with actively co-creating our reality, to become conscious of our part in this grand oneness and act accordingly.

We can choose how we want to act out this role. We might not be able to change Namibia into a rainforest, but we can learn to accept that we are living in an arid country, we can take responsibility for living within the means of what is available and the courage to act as blessings to our surroundings.

We can honour and respect what we have, and express our joy and gratitude in a thousand ways.

We can use our power to change our ways and find ways to better serve our earth-body.

Yes, I believe we can make rain and we should!

Is it easy? No, but it is definitely more constructive and fun, than being prophets of misfortune and disaster and clinging to our fears.

Do you fear being at the receiving end of the weather and climate around you? In what ways do you deal with that fear? And what is your solution? Do you save water? Have you ever performed a raindance? Or have you consciously prayed for rain? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

If you want to read more about my thoughts and actions on rainmaking, please click HERE to see a list of all blog posts on this subject.

( I started writing this as a short introduction to one of my rainmaking experiments which I wanted to share with you, but then it turned out to be a loooooong introduction and I decided to rather let you digest this first, and share the experiment with you in the next post.)

Secret ingredients for making rain…

IRust_DSC01338(c)

Ok, I have decided to share my secret list of ingredients for making rain with you 🙂 .

When we wish to manifest a different reality in our lives, we must firstly set a clear intention. Then we need to put the energy closest linked to that state into a creative act – such as art, music, dance or a ritual. Add a huge bucket of trust and stir in hands-full of patience. Regularly add generous amounts of gratitude and sprinkle with as much fun and creativity as you can find. Decorate with light-heartedness and celebration.

As you might have guessed, this is an update on my last post “Waiting for rain” and you are probably curious to hear if my little rainmaker was successful.

After I made my ‘little rainmaker’ and writing about it in my last post, nothing much happened for a few days. And I started to get doubts. Maybe the rainmaker was too small? Or maybe the stone which I selected, was wrong – after all, it came from the Namib desert, a place which seldom sees rain. Maybe it just had forgotten the feeling of rain? So just to be absolutely sure, I decided to remind the stone and myself of the feeling of water, by making it stand in water, and refilling the water every day, saying my thanks to nature.

IRust_DSC00944(c)

There was some rain on the 4th of February, but not much. Just enough that I decided to re-draw the cloud image and rain drops on the stone, as the image has been washed away a little bit. Through doing so, I reaffirmed my gratitude for every little drop of rain that we are getting.

IRust_DSC01277(c)

All the time I regularly thought about our believes and superstitions surrounding rain. As kids we were told that eating up your food would allow it to rain and I still say that to friends when they are over for dinner. In Namibia we also say that you must not run to take down the washing from the line, when the first drops fall, as this will surely chase away the rain…

So when the first drops appeared  I rather took a picture of my washing and the drops, happy about every little bit of moisture and not worry about it getting wet.  Quietly celebrating each one of the few drops which our sky managed to squeeze out of the promising clouds. Even if once again, the drops stopped coming soon after they started… (Note to self: the washing believe does not seem to hold water in either a literal or figurative way. 😉 )

Raindrops on my washing

Raindrops on my washing

First raindrops on the new rainmaker (7 Feb)

First raindrops on the new rainmaker (7 Feb)

On my birthday, the 7th of February, maybe as a special birthday gift, we had the first real rain. (Another note to self: it really takes a lot of patience, trust and many little prayers of thanks to get it to rain, but eventually it will rain.)

Ok, I acknowledge that I hoped the little rainmaker would bring lots of rain within two or three days. But maybe I just need more practice and more faith. And at least making and nurturing the little rainmaker  gave me a sense of being proactive and positive in a time, when many people are starting to be talking about the imminent drought that we might be facing this year with a doomsday face and spreading the fear.

I learned that even if we can (and should be able to) influence reality with the right intentions and actions  a little bit nature still has a way of following its own rhythms, but it might also be reminding us of some valuable lessons. We have been blessed with several really good rainy seasons and we have started to take water for granted again. We have wasted water, used it without being conscious about our actions or without remembering how very blessed we are and saying thanks.

And even if my little rainmaker has not yet brought Namibia or my garden the wonderful rains which I hoped for, I still have faith that we will also survive this year and this season.And that the rain might still come…

Last, but not least the little rainmaker provided me with regular joy watching the wild animals coming to drink from my installation. In the very first picture is a wild yellow mongoose and below is a red-eyed bird. I do not know the scientific name of the bird, but I happen to know this bird personally, as I had the pleasure to share its life for the past few months. She and her husband have nested in my garden and I could watch them raise their young chick, teaching it to fly and celebrate life.

Red-eyed bird drinking from the rainmaker installation

Red-eyed bird drinking from the rainmaker installation

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?

Encounters in the Namib

A bird puzzled by my artwork in the desert © Imke Rust

A bird puzzled by my artwork in the desert © Imke Rust (detailed view)

I have spent eight days in the beginning of April in the desert around the coastal town of Swakopmund to make artworks in nature. It is my way to raise awareness about the threats which our environment is facing. And it is my way of taking action. I believe that art is not only an aesthetic experience, but also a powerful and spiritual one. Just like the shamans and healers of the olden days have used drawings, symbols, rituals and objects to heal and change the vibrations of the current reality, I hope that my art can have a positive and healing influence.

The Namib Desert at the Atlantic coast in Namibia is currently under much threat, with uranium mines springing up and growing like fungi, huge chemical plants proposed to be built (who plan to get rid of their toxic waste in the Atlantic ocean) and even Phosphor mining plans on our shores. Not only these big obvious projects are threatening the desert and ocean, but also the thousands of people who mindlessly use the environment as their playground without consideration or awareness of the damage they are doing.

I am happy that more and more people are standing up and making their voices heard for saving our environment and there even being signs and actions from our government which gives us hope that they are not going to sell out our desert. I thought a lot about what I can do for my part, and decided that I stick to what I do best: art. Instead of painting posters against the ‘enemy’ I decided to do things pro nature, make artworks which symbolically protect the land from harm, bless it and celebrate its beauty, while at the same time raising awareness about the threats.

I am busy preparing the documentation of the works for my upcoming exhibition in June in Berlin and want to keep the artworks a surprise till then. Instead I will share with you pictures of some of the meetings we had during the eight days, in which we worked in the desert. Just to show you how alive the desert really is with creatures we often do not even notice. All of these and many, many more depend on our choices for their survival. And our own survival depends on a healthy and alive environment.

Horned Viper taking refuge in a shaded burrow

Horned Viper taking refuge in a shaded burrow

Although I have much time of my life in the desert, it is the first time that I personally spotted this highly poisonous small snake. A good reminder for me to tread carefully for my own protection and on the other hand I felt sadness, as she was living in an area where sand is mined and I guess it is only a matter of time, before she ends up being killed by the huge machines.

A  well camouflaged desert gecko

A well camouflaged desert gecko

Another gecko, not as fussed with camouflaging

Another gecko, not as fussed with camouflaging

A lizard who has lost its tail

A lizard who has lost its tail

A very friendly and inquisitive pregnant chameleon

A very friendly and inquisitive pregnant chameleon

A desert rabbit, sitting very still, in the hope that we do not see it...

A desert rabbit, sitting very still, in the hope that we do not see it…

A black scorpion

A black scorpion – very poisonous (you can tell from the large stingers and small fangs)

These are only some of the animals which we encountered while working in the desert, as I did not always have my camera ready….  I was so amazed to notice just how alive the desert really is.

Oh, and then while marveling at the horned viper, we also encountered some very noisy two-wheeled creatures:

Motorcycles and plastic bags in the desert

Motorcycles and plastic bags in the desert

I wonder how many of our small new friends they noticed? And how many of them survived the encounter?

If this matter is also close to your heart and you would like to show your support for the environment of the Namib Desert, especially around Swakopmund, please join the Facebook group Industrial Swakopmund – What Future do we Want?” and stay updated about the latest news and actions.

The art project was funded, in part, through a Grant by the National Arts Council of Namibia (NACN),  the opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed herein are those of the Author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the NACN.LOGO NACN

Hand-coloured Photographs Making a Powerful Statement

Chemical Reaction (Namib Desert) © Imke Rust

Chemical Reaction (Namib Desert) © Imke Rust

Recently I have invited you all to come to an exhibition of a selection of photographs which were submitted to the “Our Coast Your Photo” Competition, which was on show in Windhoek and Swakopmund.

Initially I was informed that I was one of the finalists, but then at the opening it turned out that the judges did not think that hand-coloured photographs are photographs but are art, and therefore my works were not considered for the actual prizes.  A detailed discussion of this decision would be interesting, considering that hand-colouring photographs is a technique used in photography for almost as long as we have photography itself, but maybe I leave that for another time or for the comments.

For now, I am happy to say that the organizers did think that my work still deserved a “special mention for making a powerful statement. … Rust managed to convey a message of “pretty promises” made by industrialists that paint a pretty picture, while the result would actually be unnatural – and even detrimental to the environment.” (quoted from The Namibian, 2 April 2012, pg7). The special mention came with a small financial prize and a bottle of unpolluted Namibian sea water – which I thought was a very nice touch in line with the background of the exhibition. It might become a rarity soon, but I hope not!

Here are the works which I have submitted for those of you who were not able to see them in person.

Toxic Flow (Swakop River)  © Imke Rust, Digital Photograph

Toxic Flow (Swakop River)
© Imke Rust, Digital Photograph

Toxic Waste (Moon Valley)  © Imke Rust

Toxic Waste (Moon Valley) © Imke Rust

About the works:

“My entries are hand-coloured photographs of  Swakopmund’s surrounding environment.

The idea came while I was in Berlin and was hearing about the planed chemical works that might be built near Swakopmund.  I looked at my photographs of Swakopmund and its surrounding area which I took earlier in the year and wondered what it will look like should the chemical plant be build with all its toxic waste and side effects. I also thought of the “pretty promises” that are made of all the wonderful things (like job creation) such developments would bring Namibians. What at first glance might look pretty and interesting might turn out to be really dangerous, and we are not really aware of how far-reaching the negative effects might be. The colourful interventions on the photographs, give a striking and ‘pretty’ effect, but also allude to the chemical and toxic interference with nature.

We are so used to see really good photographs of the Namibian environment and we often taken our environment for granted. That is why I decided to make some physical and ‘chemical’ interventions in bright and ‘unnatural’ acrylic (plastic) colours to the photographs. I hope this artificial, tampered view, makes people sit up and notice and think about what they are seeing and want to see.”

The exhibition is still up in Swakopmund at “The Art Gallery” in the Brauhaus Arcade till the end of April. According to that gallery it is one of their most visited exhibitions to date. So, if you are in Swakopmund, do take some time to go and see all the finalists work (and mine 😉 ) if you enjoy photography, art and our beautiful coast!

Oh, and I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject:  is photography art and is art photography? Should a hand-coloured photograph be judged differently than a photoshopped one, or an 100% untouched one? Let me know what you think…