Tag Archives: namib desert

Namibian Video Art in Korea

Still image of 'Toxic Water' video artwork by Imke Rust

Still image of ‘Toxic Water’ video artwork by Imke Rust

How awesome is that? My video work has been selected for the Geumgang Nature Art Biennale 2016 (Video exhibition)!

I am so excited that ‘Toxic Water’ is currently shown in the Republik of Korea till the end of November 2016. If you happen to be around that part of the world, go and have a look!

You can find more information on the webpage of the Geumgang Nature Art Biennale 2016 .

My apologies for the having been pretty quiet in the past few months and now sending you some updates in a shorter time. I have planned another über-exciting one for Monday, so please bear with me. Things have been hectic and difficult on many fronts, but much has also led up to all the exciting prospects happening in my career at the moment.

I am so grateful for your continued interest and support and did not want you to miss out on this news. 🙂

Geumgang Nature Art Biennale - Invitation

Geumgang Nature Art Biennale – Invitation

Here are some behind-the-scenes images from the making of the video art work. Please click on the images to see a larger version:

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.

Berlin Premiere of ‘An Infinite Scream’

We are very excited to announce the Berlin Premiere of the German version of our

documentary film ‘An Infinite Scream’ at the

BrotfabrikKino in Berlin

on Saturday, May 30th (2015)

We hope we can welcome many of you for the very first public screening and a discussion with Steffen Holzkamp (director and producer) and myself, the artist. This is an exciting and intimate look behind the scene of my art making, my intentions behind it and the challenges and opportunities of the art scene in Namibia.

Please feel free to share this event widely with your friends! Thank you.

EinladungEinBild

   Die Deutsch-Namibische Gesellschaft e. V. und der Glashaus e. V.

laden Sie herzlich ein zur

Berlin-Premiere des Dokumentarfilms AN INFINITE SCREAM (Deutsche Fassung)
 
am Samstag, dem 30. Mai 2015

Beginn: 18:00 Uhr
Ort: BrotfabrikKino, Caligariplatz 1, 13086 Berlin-Weißensee
(Tram M2, M13, 12; s. „Service“ unter http://www.brotfabrik-berlin.de)

Programm:

18:00 – 18:45 Uhr        “An Infinite Scream”
18:45 – 19:00 Uhr        Gespräch mit dem Filmemacher Steffen Holzkamp und der Künstlerin Imke Rust
19:00 – 19:40 Uhr        weiteres Filmmaterial zum Thema

Synopsis:

In der prallen Wüstensonne über 1000 Weißdornen zu Kreisen legen? Schwarze Müllsackrosen in die Sanddünen pflanzen? Oder eine halbe Tonne Salz  zu einer begehbaren Skulptur formen?

Die Landart Installationen der Namibischen Künstlerin Imke Rust folgen einem immanenten Anliegen: Der Sorge über den zunehmenden Uranabbau in Namibia und der Verschandelung der Wüste. Ihre Kunstwerke sorgen für Aufmerksamkeit, verstehen sich aber auch als ein symbolischer Schutz für das geschundene Land.

Kann Kunst etwas bewirken? Was kann ich tun? Mit diesen Fragen beschäftigt sich Imke Rust auf eindringliche Weise.

In 2012 in Namibia und Berlin gedreht, spiegelt der Film die  teils meditative Stimmung der Entstehung von Rust’s Landart. Ruhige Einstellungen bei der Installation der „Salt Circles“ oder reportagige Handkamera bei der Videoperformance „The Scream“ auf der Seebrücke am Atlankik: Schnitt und Montage folgen dem Tempo der Kunst.

Die Absage der gebuchten Rust-Ausstellung seitens der Kunstvereinigung bringt dem Film eine dramaturgische Wendung und verlagert den Schwerpunkt hin zu einer gesellschaftlichen und medialen Kontroverse über die „Freiheit der Kunst“ in Namibia.

So organisiert sich die bekannte Künstlerin mit Hilfe durch ein Netzwerk von Unterstützern ihre Ausstellung einfach selbst.

Starke Bilder an atemberaubenden Orten, sowie Illustrationen und Musik verdichten den Film zu einem eindrucksvollen Statement für Courage und Eigeninitiative im eher konservativen Namibia.

Die Filmarbeit in Namibia wurde teilweise vom National Arts Council of Namibia unterstützt.

Trailer und weitere Informationen zum Film: https://aninfinitescream.wordpress.com
 

Das Kino hat 60 Plätze.

Vorverkauf oder Reservierung über Tel.: 030/471 40 41 oder per E-Mail: karten@brotfabrik-berlin.de werden empfohlen.

Der Eintritt beträgt 7,50 Euro (normal) und 6 Euro (ermäßigt).

Etwaige Fragen richten Sie bitte an: imkerust(a)iway.na

 
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Logo DNG (neu)

Are You Walking in Circles?

I am suspicious of video art…

Usually I either do not understand it, or it is boring or I just do not feel like watching for what feels like a lifetime to ‘get’ it. And yet, I have been lured into making my own video art. At least I hope that my video art is short and easy to understand. And if you do not understand it, at least it will have been so short, that you hopefully will not feel like you have wasted half your day on it.

And so, today I would like to introduce to you one of the works of my last exhibition, Walking in Circles. The work is conceptualised to be running continuously without any stops. So much for me disliking long videos… 😉 Don’t worry, in reality it is only an 18 second clip, looped and presented to you here in a bite-size piece of 3 minutes (or shorter if you press the stop button 😉 ). After you have watched the video, please feel free to read on, as I share my thoughts behind the work below.

A Meditation On Life and Change

This is a meditative work, where seemingly nothing changes, no matter how long you keep watching. When watching a video, we somehow expect that something new will happen, that there is a story to be told, a new action introduced or at least a beginning and an end. This video is moving along, but nothing changes. I could have been walking for 10 minutes or 24 hours, but you will not know. And there is no end, unless you leave the room or press the Stop button.

This could have a calming effect. Just like the cycles of nature, or day and night following each other without fail. So if you have a lot of turbulence in your life, this video could bring calm to it. It provides repetitive, calming stability and presence. Step for step, circle for circle you can let yourself be drawn into the moment and know that the important things will always remain constant. The cycles of nature will turn. The sun will rise again. You can rest, slow down and trust the process.

This could also have a very different effect on you. You might feel stuck in a rut. You might yearn for a change. But the video does not provide that, no matter how long you stare and wait. In this case, watching the video could be a meditation, leading you to the understanding, that if you want something to change, YOU need to change. Unless the person walking in the circles actually makes the conscious decision to step out of that ring into the next, everything will stay the same.

Are you willing to step outside of the circle? And change the course of history?

Consciously stepping out of the circle... © Imke Rust

Consciously stepping out of the circle… © Imke Rust

About the work:
‘Walking in Circles’ by Imke Rust
 18 seconds, looped indefinitely,  projected against a wall. or on a vertically placed screen.
 Performance /  HD Video piece
 Concept & Performance: Imke Rust ©
 Video: Steffen Holzkamp
 April 2012
 Location: grounds of the Salt Company (PTY) Ltd, Namib Desert.

Can art do more?

Imke Rust Saltcircles

Photographing the first day’s work of the ‘Saltcircles’ during a misty sunset. (photograph by Steffen Holzkamp)

Art can be thought-provoking, inspiring and make the world more beautiful. But can it do more?

Part of my being is that I question everything. I love understanding the relations between things, the ‘why?’ of everything. I also love to find alternative solutions to problems or do things other people think cannot be done.

Often I ask myself, why am I doing art? What ‘real’ purpose does it serve? And can it do more than just look pretty, be a clever idea or make people think? Somehow all these things have not yet completely satisfied me. Yes, they all have merit and even a purely decorative painting has its purpose, but I believe there is more to life and more to art.

This has led my search, amongst others, to old, shamanic traditions. Somewhere during my art history studies I came across a reference to Ethiopian healing scrolls. If a person was sick, the priest would make scrolls according to specific rules (for instance the scroll needed to be as long as the person’s height, if I remember correctly), on which they painted symbols and wrote prayers. These scrolls were then taken home by the sick person and were viewed every day till the illness was cured. Interesting – art made to heal somebody?

Again and again I stumbled onto references where art is used for protection, fertility, health, initiation or to manifest a desired state. I became more aware that in olden days the shamans and priests made use of what we today call art (dance, painting, sculpture, music, etc.) to do their work of healing, blessing and manifesting. Since I read about the healing scrolls, I have been looking at the link between art and spiritual and mythical traditions and beliefs more closely. I do believe that under certain circumstances, art has more power and effect than what we normally imagine, and so I decided to try and be much more conscious about what kind of art I am making and why and how…

Working in the Moon valley, Namib Desert

Working in the Moon Valley, Namib Desert (Photograph by Steffen Holzkamp)

Be the change that you want to see in the world

In 2007 I made my first conscious work into this direction. I developed a personal Yin & Yang symbol to harmonize and balance the male and female energies in my life (Click here if you are curious). In 2010, I hoped for rain and made a work entitled ‘Rainmaker’ (read more about it here) – this was the start of becoming more interested in working directly in nature. Towards the end of last year the general concern about the environmental threats posed to the Namib desert by increased mining and industrial activities and proposed plans for off-shore mining of phosphate on the Namibian coast, started growing. Having grown up in Swakopmund and still considering it one of my homes, I, too, am concerned and decided to find ways in which I can do my part “to make the world a better place” and protecting the environment.

I realized that protesting or being against what I consider to be a threat is not the way to change things – or at least not my way. Instead I looked at ways of putting energy into the reality I would like to experience: a balanced, healthy and protected environment, in which all beings co-exist in a harmonious way, without destroying each other. This is based on the spiritual idea of ‘what you sow is what you reap’.

Planting black 'roses' in the Namib Desert

Planting black ‘roses’ in the Namib Desert (Photograph by Steffen Holzkamp)

The works had to fulfill at least one of two different purposes:

  1. to protect, bless and heal the land
  2. to make the threats visible and conscious, because if you have looked into the eyes of the danger, you understand it better and loose the fear and can act from a stronger base.

Loosely based on different aspects of old shamanic and spiritual traditions from all over the world, I tried to find my own formal approach, use of form, symbols, rituals and materials according to my intentions to produce my art or healing works.

Click here to be taken to see a small selection of the resulting artworks and brief descriptions.

The exhibition is officially declared open…

The opening of my solo exhibition “Goldgräberstimmung” (Goldrush Mood) on Saturday has drawn people from all over Berlin to Rigaer Street 62 in Friedrichshain, Berlin – some even came all the way from Bremen and Leipzig. There were enough art-loving people and special friends to fill and keep the small space continuously bubbling for more than three hours.

What would art be, if nobody sees or experiences it?

So thank you to everybody who made the time and effort to be there and share the fruits of my work, thoughts and passion with me. For those who could not attend the opening, you still have a chance to see the works throughout the next four weeks (please see my previous blog-post for more details on the gallery’s opening times etc.)

Another big Thank You goes to Jens Garling who opened the exhibition for me, with a lively and wonderful speech, to the Neumann Galerie for hosting the exhibition and to Steffen Holzkamp for all the support before and during the opening.

I would love to post pictures of the artworks on my blog, but am not sure if it will spoil the interest for the people who would like to see the artworks in real? Please let me know what is your opinion: to show or not to show?

Till I have come to a decision, here are a few pictures of the opening:

With Jens Garling and Ms Gisela Neumann

Opening speech by Jens Garling (with Ms Gisela Neumann)

Interested guests viewing the video

Interested guests viewing the video

Goldgraeberstimmung Ausstellung

Goldgraeberstimmung Ausstellung

 

 

 

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….

OUR COAST YOUR PHOTO POSTER

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.