Impressions of German Art Scene

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By Imke Rust I have recently returned from Germany where I was invited for the Bremer Kunststipendium 2006 and to spend three months (March -May) in Bremen. A jury awards the Bremer Kunststipendium after a competitive selection process of artists from partner cities of Bremen. It was the first time an artist from Windhoek was invited and I used the time to raise awareness and interest about Namibia and Namibian art in Bremen. The stipend included free accommodation (including meals) and studio facilities in a flat in the Stiftungsresidenz Landhaus Horn in Bremen. Dr Katerina Vatsella, the friendly and very professional curator of the stipend, looked after my well-being and assisted me with all practical aspects of living and working in a foreign country and introduced me to German colleagues and other important people. The Bremer Buergerschaft (Bremer State Parliament), which together with the Bremer Heimstiftung are the sponsors of the Bremer Kunststipendium, also ensured that I could make free use of the public transport in the city, have free entry to many art museums and I could even visit some theatre shows free of charge. Privately I already had contact with Bremer artist, Michael Weisser, and together we organised an exhibition in Bremen for the month of May 06. The exhibition ‘Namib>>’ was held at the Bremer Medienzentrum, showing works by Weisser and myself. The works illustrate three different perspectives about Namibia. I showed works from my ‘Memories Series’ and my ‘Power & Politics Series’, while Weisser showed digital photographs from his visit to Namibia. The exhibition’s patron was the Goethe Centre Namibia/NaDS and the director, Ms Sabine Erlenwein, travelled to Bremen for this event and introduced the exhibition with a poignant speech, while Dr Rainer Bessling, a respected art critic and writer from Bremen, made the official opening speech to the exhibition. The Minister Counsellor of the Namibian Embassy, Pius Dunaiski, also came all the way from Berlin to attend the opening. A catalogue was published in connection with the exhibition. The catalogue was partly sponsored by the Goethe Centre/NaDS, the City of Windhoek, the Medienzentrum and a private sponsor. Another highlight was the Namibia culinary/culture evening at the renowned Atlantic Airport Blixx Hotel, which was held the night after the exhibition opening with Weisser and myself being the guests of honour. While a fine Namibian three-course meal was served, two well-known Bremer actors, Annette Zillenbach and Ekkehard Lampe-Steinhage, read selected passages from the e-mail dialogue, in which Weisser and myself addressed and discussed different Namibian (social, political and artistic) issues. A slideshow of our artworks was screened onto the background wall. This evening, too, was a great success. Additionally, I had a small exhibition of my works in the lobby of the offices of the Bremen State Parliament (Haus der Buergerschaft). This served to introduce the receiver of the stipend to the public and was opened with a small reception by the President of the State Parliament Mr Christian Weber. The head of General Administration and Foreign Relations, Mr W.Krause, the curator Dr Vatsella and several members of the press were also present. Another small exhibition was held in the Landhaus Horn during an open day of the Bremer Heimstiftung. On my own initiative I presented several slideshows to the interested public on Namibia and Namibian art during this time. The three months went by very quickly. Besides the exhibitions and talks, I used the time to get into contact with art institutions, like the Bremer Kunsthochschule, met Bremer artists, visited art museums and openings and worked on my own art projects.