The Namibian Ambassador to Germany, Prof. Dr Peter Katjavivi, officially opened Imke Rust’s solo exhibition on October 10 in the Bundespresseamt in Berlin “Imke Rust’s art is not conventional. However, it is powerful and provocative. It makes us question our memories, society and our behaviour. This is one of the things that good art should do. I congratulate her and wish her well, and I hope you will take the time to look closely at these works,” Katjavivi said when addressing the numerous guests and dignitaries present. The exhibition takes place under the auspices of the German-Namibian Society in light of the official Berlin-Windhoek city partnership. This is Rust’s second exhibition in Berlin after a very successful exhibition in the Youth Art School ATRIUM in Berlin-Reinickendorf last month. In an official press release by Berlin’s State Government, Klaus Wowereit, the governing Mayor of Berlin, warmly welcomed Imke Rust. He praised her exhibition as an important event in the continued cultural exchange and dialogue between the two cities and hopes it finds strong support and interest from the Berlin public. Imke has received a two-month stipend from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and is currently staying and working in Berlin. In collaboration with Mr Oliver Schruoffeneger, a member of Berlin’s Parliament (Berlin House of Representatives), Rust has set up various meetings with individuals and institutions of Berlin’s art world to establish contacts and discuss possible future art projects which could be used to strengthen the city partnership as well as promote Namibian art in Germany. The response has been extremely positive, and promising. Imke has also been invited to hold talks about Namibia, art and the ties between Namibia and Germany at several different official functions and in schools. On display at the exhibition are works from the Memories and the Power & Politics Series. They have proven to be a good vehicle for promoting dialogue and discussions on Namibia and Germany’s joint history. As Prof. Dr. Katjavivi put it: “Not much is said of the detention of German Namibian men during the Second World War, so it is good to make this known and to record and explore the impact it had on the families concerned. “However, in this series, Imke Rust also raises a wider question about the separation of families. Namibians from other communities, as well as people from other countries can relate to her work. Namibia has been through many conflicts, had many men and women detained and separated from their families. Thus, it is appropriate to have this exhibition in Berlin, where families were also separated in the past.” Imke confirms: “I believe art plays an important role in building bridges between different people and communities. It is time that the younger generation takes up the challenge and responsibility to play an active part in shaping Namibia’s identity and future. It is also vital that officials recognize the essential role that art and artist can – and do – play in promoting unity, establishing links and creating and favourably adding to national identity. If we stop focussing on the differences and problems, we can find the similarities and solutions. “It is amazing to see how my art has touched so many people, not only in Namibia, but also in a foreign country like Germany. The response I received from people here has confirmed how important such an exchange of ideas, art and discussions is for understanding each other,” she said. The exhibition ends on October 27.
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