Tag Archives: installation

Ich höre den Schakal – Two Person Exhibition in Dachau 4 July

Katrin Schürmann and Imke Rust
will be exhibiting
at the Galerie der KVD in Dachau.
Opening on the 4th of July @ 19h30

Save the date! And please share with your friends in the area!


Hope to see you there! 😃 Ich freue mich euch dort zu sehen!

About the exhibition: (für den deutschen Text, bitte runter – scrollen)

Katrin Schürmann (1944) and me (1975) have a very interesting connection: we both grew up on the same farm in Namibia and we went to the same school in Swakopmund. We both are artists and both are now living in Germany.

Having met in 2017 at my exhibition in Munich we have kept in contact via email and exchanged memories and thoughts about the farm and our connection. Katrin Schürmann soon invited me to join her in an exhibition exploring this unique connection that we have.

After her studies Katrin Schürmann left Namibia to work in Germany and stayed ever since. In 1984 her mother sold their family farm Otukarru to my parents. So, just like Katrin, I spent a big part of my youth on the farm. Since my family is still farming there, I am also visiting as often as I can.

How do two artists of different generations relate to the same piece of land? How do the perspectives differ because of time,  memory and physical and emotional distance? Where do the perceptions differ? Where are they similar. How do the artists each deal not only with their personal histories, but also the colonial history? Especially in the current times, when it is important to critically question the history of land ownership in Namibia.

Both artists feel a strong connection to nature and Namibia’s vast spaces, the desert and the bush. Katrin works with abstract minimalism. Her monotypes and installations reflect the the barrenness of the land.

I am showing mixed media works, drawings and video works, which are mostly abstract figurative and explore my direct relation to the farm which I still call home. I am questioning the idealisation of and my ambivalent feeling towards the farm life. Current happenings, such as the drought, poaching incidents and the political call for land expropriation of white farmers, affect me directly and are expressed in my works.

Imke Rust ‘Rinderpest’ Mixed Media on paper, 68 x 82cm

Deutsch:

Wer entsinnt sich nicht an den Satz, der am Anfang des Romans von Tanya Blixen und einem sehr erfolgreichen Film steht: „Ich hatte eine Farm in Afrika“. Diese Aussage trifft auch auf die beiden Ausstellerinnen zu. Er prägte ihre Jugend.

Es ist nicht nur die Kindheit in Afrika, die Katrin Schürmann (1944) und Imke Rust (1975) verbindet – sie wuchsen auf derselben Farm in Namibia auf, gingen zur selben Schule in einem 300 Kilometer entfernten Dorf an der Küste, mitten in der Wüste. Dies alles stellte sich heraus, als sich die beiden Frauen zum ersten Mal trafen anlässlich einer Ausstellung von Imke Rust 2017 in der Pasinger Fabrik in München. Die beiden gehören verschiedenen Generationen an, die eine lebt heutzutage in Berlin, die andere in München.

Gemeinsam ist den beiden Künstlerinnen sicherlich die Liebe zur Natur, zu den endlosen Weiten der afrikanischen Savanne und der Wüste. Dieses drückt sich in der Arbeiten von Katrin Schürmann eher in minimalistischen, reduzierten Abstraktionen aus. Die Kargheit des Landes spiegelt sich in einfachen und direkten Darstellungen (Monotypien und Installationen) wider.

Ganz anders sind die Arbeiten von Imke Rust einzuordnen. Die gebürtige Namibierin, die erst vor kurzem nach Deutschland kam, weist auf politische Entwicklungen hin, bringt eine zwiespältige Reflektion zum Ausdruck, denn beide Künstlerinnen müssen sich heutzutage fragen, unter welchen Umständen diese Farm zur Kolonialzeit in Deutschen Besitz kam.

Imke Rust ist regelmäßig in ihrer Heimat und auf der elterlichen Farm. Somit ist sie immer wieder mit den aktuellen Geschehnissen dort konfrontiert. Ob Trockenheit, Wilderei oder die Forderungen nach Landenteignungen weißer Farmer – vieles berührt sie direkt und spiegelt sich in ihren Werken wieder

Imke Rust zeigt Arbeiten die auf der elterlichen Farm in Namibia entstanden sind oder in direkter Beziehung dazu stehen. Sie arbeitet multimedial und vorzugsweise direkt in der Natur, welches sie in Fotografien, Zeichnungen und Videoarbeiten dokumentiert und zeigt.

Für die geplante Ausstellung befassen sich beide Künstlerinnen mit ihrer Beziehung zu dem Land Namibia, aber auch dem Stückchen Land auf dem beide aufgewachsen sind und das für sie lange ihr Zuhause war. Wie sehen sie ihre persönliche Beziehung zu dem Land und seiner Geschichte? Welche Ähnlichkeiten und Unterschiede gibt es in der Wahrnehmung? Gerade in der jetzigen Zeit, wo Deutschland von den Herero zur Verantwortung für ihre koloniale Geschichte gezogen wird, ist eine kritische und persönliche Hinterfragung was es denn bedeutet „eine Farm in Afrika gehabt zu haben?“ spannend und wesentlich.

Mehr Information zu / More information about Katrin Schürmann:  http://www.katrinschuermann.de

Katrin Schürmann Monotypes 100 x 70cm

 

 

Upcoming: Zusammen Wachsen – group exhibition in Berlin!

BERLIN!!! (for english, please scroll down)

Zusammen Wachsen – Perspektiven namibischer Kunst

Das Projekt wird in Zusammenarbeit der kommunalen Galerie und der Deutsch-Namibischen Gesellschaft e. V. (DNG) realisiert. Einer breiteren Öffentlichkeit werden die namibischen Künstler*innen Imke Rust, Kirsten Wechslberger, Shiya Karuseb sowie Xenia Ivanoff-Erb vorgestellt und deren zeitgenössische Arbeiten präsentiert. Die ausgestellten Werke reichen von Malerei und Zeichnung über Mixedmedia und Grafik bis hin zu Fotografie und dreidimensionalen Objekten. Das gemeinsam gewählte Thema ZUSAMMEN WACHSEN ist verbindendes Element. Zugleich wird es aber auch sehr unterschiedliche interpretiert und gedeutet.

Alle Künstler werden anwesend sein. Wir freuen uns, euch zur Eröffnung persönlich willkommen heissen zu können.

Eröffnung: 28 Juni 2019 um 19.00 Uhr

Es laden ein: Michael Grunst, Bezirksbürgermeister, Dr Catrin Gocksch, Fachbereichsleiterin Kunst und Kultur und Katrin Krüger, Leiterin des Kulturhauses Karlshorst.

Begrüßung: Jürgen Becker, Kurator der Ausstellung und Mitglied im Vorstand der DNG
Eröffnungsrede: Egon Kochanke, Botschafter a.D.

Ausstellungszeitraum: 29. Juni bis 25. August 2019

Info über mich und meine Werke die gezeigt werden:

Imke Rust, geboren 1975 in Windhoek, lebt in Oranienburg bei Berlin und Swakopmund in Namibia.  Ich bin eine namibisch-deutsche Land Art und multimediale Künstlerin, aufgewachsen in der Wüste Namibias. Seit einigen Jahren pendele ich zwischen meiner Heimat und Deutschland, zwischen Wüste und Wald.   In meinen Arbeiten befasse ich mich mit Fragen meiner eigenen Identität und Migration, Verwurzelung, Entwurzelung und Anpassung. Als namibische Nachfahrin deutscher Auswanderer in 5ter Generation versuche ich nun in meiner neuen Wahlheimat Oberhavel nahe Berlin neue Wurzeln zu schlagen.   Geprägt vom dornigen Buschland und der kargen, trockenen Wüste verspüre ich eine besondere Nähe zur Natur. Welche Wurzeln muss ich kappen, welche neuen Äste oder Stämme wachsen lassen um hier im moosbedeckten Wald zu überleben? Was will und kann zusammen wachsen und neu entstehen? Wie ändern sich Form und Identität in diesem neuen Umfeld?   An der Universität von Südafrika absolvierte ich den ‚BA Degree in Visual Art’ und bin zweimalige Gewinnerin des wichtigsten Kunstpreis Namibias, der Standard Bank Namibia Biennale. In zahlreichen Solo und Gruppenausstellungen wurden Arbeiten von mir weltweit ausgestellt. Über ein Stipendium des Deutschen Akademischen Austauschdienstes (DAAD) kam ich 2006 das erste Mal nach Berlin.

Imke Rust, geboren 1975 in Windhoek, lebt in Oranienburg bei Berlin und Swakopmund in Namibia. Ich bin eine namibisch-deutsche Land Art und multimediale Künstlerin, aufgewachsen in der Wüste Namibias. Seit einigen Jahren pendele ich zwischen meiner Heimat und Deutschland, zwischen Wüste und Wald. In meinen Arbeiten befasse ich mich mit Fragen meiner eigenen Identität und Migration, Verwurzelung, Entwurzelung und Anpassung. Als namibische Nachfahrin deutscher Auswanderer in 5ter Generation versuche ich nun in meiner neuen Wahlheimat Oberhavel nahe Berlin neue Wurzeln zu schlagen. Geprägt vom dornigen Buschland und der kargen, trockenen Wüste verspüre ich eine besondere Nähe zur Natur. Welche Wurzeln muss ich kappen, welche neuen Äste oder Stämme wachsen lassen um hier im moosbedeckten Wald zu überleben? Was will und kann zusammen wachsen und neu entstehen? Wie ändern sich Form und Identität in diesem neuen Umfeld? An der Universität von Südafrika absolvierte ich den ‚BA Degree in Visual Art’ und bin zweimalige Gewinnerin des wichtigsten Kunstpreis Namibias, der Standard Bank Namibia Biennale. In zahlreichen Solo und Gruppenausstellungen wurden Arbeiten von mir weltweit ausgestellt. Über ein Stipendium des Deutschen Akademischen Austauschdienstes (DAAD) kam ich 2006 das erste Mal nach Berlin.

English:

Save the date! 28th of June we celebrate the opening of our group exhibition ‘Zusammen Wachsen’ at the Kulturhaus Karlshorst.

4 Namibian artists are presenting new and exciting art. I am honoured to show my works alongside my esteemed fellow artists: Shiya Karuseb, Kirsten Wechslberger and Xenia Ivanoff-Erb.

The project is organized by the Deutsch-Namibische Gesellschaft e. V. (DNG) together with the communal gallery Kulturhaus Karlshorst, to present contemporary Namibian art by the four artists. The selected works range from mixedmedia works, different printing techniques and photography to installations.

The subject ‘Growing Together’ was choosen by the group of artists. While this theme is the red thread through the exhibition, each artist has created their personal and unique interpretation thereof.

Come and join us for the opening! I am looking forward to connecting with you in person.

Opening: 28 June 2019 at 19:00

You are invited by: Michael Grunst, Bezirksbürgermeister, Dr Catrin Gocksch, Fachbereichsleiterin Kunst und Kultur und Katrin Krüger, Leiterin des Kulturhauses Karlshorst.

Welcoming words by  Jürgen Becker, curator of the exhibition and member of the board of the DNG
Opening speech by: Egon Kochanke, Botschafter a.D.

Duration of the exhibition: 29. Juni bis 25. August 2019

Curious about what works I will be showing?

I am presenting a brand-new series of mixed-media works. Through them I explore questions of my identity, migration, growing new roots, rootedness and being up-rooted.  As a 5th generation descendant of German colonial immigrants to Namibia, I have now choosen to create a new home for myself in Oberhavel county, just north of Berlin.

Having grown up in a thorny Namibian bush and dry, barren desert landscape I have always been very connected to the nature around me. Now I have to cut my roots and grow in new ways to survive and adapt to the moss-covered forests of my new home. How do the physical, natural surroundings shape and influence one’s identity?

Come and have a look at my take on it. And what all the other artist have created to the theme of growing together.

(Graphic Design of the first two immages by Xenia Ivanoff-Erb)

 

Floating Energy Video

I am so excited and grateful!

My talented husband, Steffen Holzkamp, has once again created a video to document my latest site-specific nature art installation. A big thank you also goes to Hans-Peter Wollmann, who has kindly provided us with his video material to use in combination with mine.

In this short video clip (1:49min) you can the ‘making-of’ and get an impression of the artwork itself.

But – it is still much better to experience it in person! If you can, please go and visit it.

I got so much wonderful feedback from the visitors while I was working there and even afterwards. All saying what a lovely surprise it was for them when they first noticed it on their walk through the forest. And then as they came closer and realised how long it was, how it was winding its way down the hill and crossing two paths, they got even more excited. It brought them so much joy, they said.

For those of you, who cannot go and visit the forest and my installation yourself, this video gives an impression, adding to the photographs in my previous post.

Enjoy! And do let me know in the comments what you think. I would appreciate it.

Floating Energy – 9. Int. Forest Art Path, Darmstadt

Floating Energy by Imke Rust

The Site-specific Installation

106 Red branches seemingly floating about half a meter above the ground. Flowing down the hill, winding its path through the forest. The total length is approximately 70m and the width varies between 1m and 4m.

Created in August 2018 as part of the 9th International Forest Art Path, in Darmstadt, Germany. Located in the forest behind the Darmstädter Böllenfalltor.

The Idea Behind it

The environment is comprised of energy and energy is always in motion. We can see many of these energy streams or sense them in one way or another. Many other such streams we are not as aware about, as we have unlearned to sense them. When we understand these energies better, we know how to flow with them or understand why crossing or opposing them might be more difficult.

When thinking or talking about nature, we often forget, that we are part of nature and we are nature too. We bring our own energy to the world, just by being who we are and doing what we do.

Usually I work in a very ephemeral way or I take my works away after I have documented them. This is the first time that I will leave a work in nature for an unknown period of time.

How will my energy and installation impact on its surroundings? And how will other energies of the forest react to it or interact with it? Will the wild pigs manoeuvre around it or destroy it or not even bother? What kind of energy will the visitors to the park bring to it?

Floating Energy (Detail) ©ImkeRust

The Process and Details

Before I installed the work, I walked around the forest to find a suitable place. While I kept some necessary artistic criteria in my mind, I mostly looked for a place that felt right.

Once I had the right place I spent quiet time walking around, sitting, listening, noticing and feeling into the place, to know where the energy comes from and where it wants to flow.

There is a special fountain of energy at the beginning of the energy flow of my installation. It starts from a large beech tree, but the real fountain is only noticeable from close by and for visitors who are willing to look and listen a bit closer. There is a root hole in which there is a lot of life and activity. Mosquitoes are buzzing around in it, seemingly in a constant energetic flow. Because of this very strong natural concentration of energy I decided to start my installation from here. From the starting point or well, I used my senses to feel how the installations energy would best flow, and followed this intuitive path.

After completion of the installation, I have been able to spent lots of time in and around it, to feel and understand the energy that was created. Once I was satisfied, I placed an offering of water at the origin of the flow and carried a second bowl down the ‘river’ to place it at its end. This way I hope to create even more of a flow and a connection throughout the installation.

I also believe that giving an offering to the forest and its spirits/energy/beings is a way of showing them (and myself) that I am aware and respectful of their existence as equal to mine. I chose water, as it emphasis the flow and also, as it is desperately needed during this very hot and dry time. While I was installing my work, I also realised that the red branches emphasise a warm, fiery energy. I felt a bit apprehensive about this, in a time where the danger of fire is a very real and everybody is on high alert. Water would symbolically cool down the fire energy – I hope.

The energy stream crosses two paths. Here the energy seemingly disappears into the ground and reappears on the other side, so that anybody can cross the stream easily and safely. I have connected the separate parts with a small water ceremony.

The Colour and Materials

I have used Signal Red spray paint for the beech branches, which make up my installation. I consciously choose a colour that symbolizes energy and which is very noticeable in the forest. Especially noticeable as something that was introduced by humans.

It was important to show that we are not separate from nature and everything we do is part of nature. There is only one nature, one energy. This installation is an attempt to better grasp this idea in its complexity and meaning.

Thin metal rods hold the branches up.

…but, is it Environmentally Friendly?

I have used graffiti spray paint from Montana, and doubt that it would be considered as really environmentally friendly. Once the work is starting to decompose, the organisers from the Waldkunstpfad will de-install it and dispose of it through the right channels.

I do hope that this artwork raises the question with everyone who sees it. While contemplating about the environmental friendliness of the paint, I hope we ask ourselves how environmentally friendly our own lives are? The plastic that our food is wrapped in, the cars we drive, the flights we take, the washing powder we use… Even the energy of negative thoughts we bring into this world.

Hopefully each of us is doing whatever we can to live more consciously and I do believe that making people happy through a beautiful artwork adds a lot of positive energy to the bigger equation.

I would love to hear your thoughts about this artwork! Do you have questions? Let me know in the comments below.

Catalogue – Global Nomadic Art Project – Europe 2017

The Global Nomadic Art Project has just released the catalogue of the projects done in Europe during 2017.

You might remember that I participated in the GNAP- Germany in August/September 2017 and before that in GNAP – South Africa 2016. It was an incredible honour and also a humbling experience to meet so many wonderful land art artists and work together for 3 weeks at a time.

You can see the results of all the different GNAP projects (Turkey, Lithuania, France, Germany and Eastern Europe) in this beautiful catalogue online:

Please click on the image to be taken to the online catalogue.

My artworks are on page 95 and on page 100 is one image of a performance piece which I made. But, take your time to look at all the other amazing art and artists brought together through this wonderful initiative.

And, if you are interested to see more of the art which I created during the GNAP 2017 – Germany project, please click here to view a compilation of my artworks.

Want to see even more? If you missed what I have created in South Africa in 2016, click here.

Three Young Muses* Unveiled in Dnipro City

(*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

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):

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.

Three:

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.

Source: http://artukraine.com.ua/eng/a/kamennye-baby-aktualnyy-vzglyad/#.V7Canq7GpHo )

View more images about the creation of my Three Young Muses at: http://artsvit.dp.ua/news/skulpturna-kompozicya-vd-mke-rust-v-dnpr/ 

 

Longing to Belong

69 Strands of (be)Longing, Fake and natural hair, branch and wire. Artwork created by Imke Rust at the ILAM, May 2016

69 Strands of (be)Longing,
Fake and natural hair, branch and wire. Artwork created by Imke Rust at the ILAM, May 2016

In May I had been in Maastricht as an invited artist to the International Land Art Maastricht Symposium. I had shared some pictures from this wonderful event together with an invitation to come and see the results, but I have not had the time to tell you more about the artwork that I created there. So today I would like to share with you some thoughts and images, especially for those of you, who could not see the work in person.

Artists were asked to propose an artwork that they would create in the park of the Chateau Jerusalem. The theme of the symposium was ‘Connected’. We had five days to complete the work, which then was on exhibition for the following two weeks.

This is the concept, which I originally formulated for my plans:

“I am exploring the ‘Connected’ theme through a material that everybody connects to African women: long, black braided hair. Although they usually are made out of fake artificial material, they have come to represent a certain identity (African), but at the same time they are also an imitation of another identity (western, long, smooth hair). In so many ways they are connecting different worlds. To me they are also a strong metaphor for belonging and identity. Hair and braids can also be used as ropes to climb to another life (Rapunzel), and relate to the migration of refugees to Europe.

As a white African I am intrigued by working with this fake hair, as a form to express the duality and paradox of my own identity and belonging. The combination of synthetic and natural materials, illusions created and the process of braiding are additional aspects, which I want to explore.”

69 Strands of (be)Longing, Fake and natural hair, branch and wire. May 2016

69 Strands of (be)Longing,
Fake and natural hair, branch and wire. Artwork created by Imke Rust at the ILAM, May 2016

I had some vague ideas of how I wanted to proceed, but since I have not seen the park and have never worked in this material before, I decided to stay open and flexible and just trust the process.

When I arrived there and saw all the grand and impressive plans from the other artists, my heart sunk. Maybe my work was too timid, too small, too unspectacular? And what if it does not work out in any way I had imagined? I had no chance to try it out before, so either it worked or it would fail… What could I do, besides just start and hope for the best? I started and was flooded with even more doubts. Am I allowed, as a white woman to make art with this kind of hair, which usually is only used by black women? Could I even dream of braiding as neatly and perfectly as those hairdressers back home in Namibia do? Aren’t they the real artists who can make the most stunning patterns and styles for their customers? Who am I to now want to use this method and material to create my art?

Well, I had a lot of time to think, while I braided. And every time the doubts and insecurities became too strong, I heard the inner voice saying: Just trust the process.

I remembered that one of the reasons why I initially wanted to work with braiding, was the repetitive process itself. Somehow it is a process that is fairly easy, but demands just enough concentration and focus, that you have to stay in the here and now, but also leaves enough space for your mind to relax and wander off into thoughts that you usually are too busy for.

This work quickly became much more about that process and the inner dialogue that happened, than the final physical artwork. For five days I just sat there, under a beautiful tree, in the middle of the park and braided. I got to understand how this synthetic material reacted to humidity, dryness, wind and weather. How it sometimes could be so stubborn and putting up a real fight to get under control, and other times it just flowed through my fingers as if it was the most natural thing to happen. I became calm and looked forward to my work and every next strand.

My thoughts turned to my first memories of braiding. When I was a young girl, it was my father who braided my hair every day. And it was also he, who taught me how to braid. And I was so proud, that I even knew (from him) how to braid with more than 3 strands. While everybody looked at braiding as a typical female activity, I connected it to my father. And yet, it was my mother who had to go and buy the fake hair in Namibia (yes, these hairs were made in Namibia and sent all the way to Germany), so it was kind of a family effort that ensured I could sit in Maastricht in a park and braid ‘my’ hair.

Masculine and feminine… control and wildness… order and chaos… expectations and reality… appearance and authenticity… there were so many concepts that flowed into and through my being and into the braids (or did it flow out of them or the process?) while I was working.

With every next strand I had another chance of flowing. The focus changing and shifting… With every movement I moved on, the strand started, got longer and longer, and then, suddenly it reached the end.

I made a rough knot into the strand to keep it from coming undone and originally thought I will melt the ends to make a neat and proper ending. After a few strands with wild and chaotic knotted ends, I noticed the beauty, the wildness and the dynamic of these endings, the contrast to the neat braids… and decided to leave them just like that.

Through folding thin strands of hair over each other again and again… the central aspect became more obvious for me. With every movement there was a longing. A longing to come to the end, but also a longing for so much more… To belong, to understand, to control, to find the balance, to find a (my) place … to just be.

Where do I belong? To my home country, where I am too white in the eyes of many? Or to Germany, where I appear (on the first outer impression) to rather belong, but where I am a stranger? Do I ‘belong’ to be more controlled, or more wild? To fit better into the pattern of society or do my ends just come loose anyway?

Click on the images below to see a larger view and read about some further details.

Braiding, braiding, braiding… in 5 days I managed to braid 69 long strands. I managed to contain my sadness in these braids, to reassess the world and my ideas about it and to learn that I can and should just trust the process. The process of an artwork, but also the process of life…

Life is like these strands. Every day you begin with a new one, a new chance. You do your best to get as far as possible. But in the end it does not matter how far you come and how many days you get. What matters is your experience and your insights, your joy, but also your struggles and what you have learned through them.

Trust the process…

Here is a video taking you around the final artwork. In the photos one aspect gets lost, and that is how alive this work seems. How it dances and moves in the wind. The video gives you a small impression of that.