When The Land Speaks I want to refuse indifference.

As the filmmaker and literary theorist Trinh T. Minh-ha declares, “I do not intend to speak about; just speak nearby.” When you decide to speak “nearby” you acknowledge the possible gaps in understanding—you leave a “space of representation open” in order to “deliberately suspend meaning … this allows the other person to come in and fill that space as they wish”.

The scale of the memories that have marked lives and the ravaged landscapes of Namibia, be it through colonial conquest, industry, mining, migration, or greed, can prompt—as the critic Sean O’Toole has pointed out, “hopelessness, or–worse still–indifference.”

I want to refuse indifference.

I wish to enliven the historical connections between the past and the present. My hope is that my work might prompt audiences to reflect on the uneven multi-directional memory at play and how these histories continue to impact the environment and lives today.

Clearing the tracks, between Aus and ǃNamiǂNûs, 2012. © Nicola Brandt.


Salt Of August: behind the dunes on the road between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, 2013. © Nicola Brandt.


Church, Scheppmansdorf, 2013. © Nicola Brandt.


Out Of Sight: The Reiterdenkmal in its final relocated position in the courtyard of the Old Fort (Alte Feste), precariously supported by metal rods, with its plaque lying on the ground next to it. Windhoek, 2014. © Nicola Brandt.


Reparations Now: The Marine Memorial (Marine-Denkmal) erected in 1908 commemorates the victory of the Schutztruppe with specific reference to the Marine Corps who fought in numerous campaigns in the German colonial wars against the Ovaherero and Nama. They also actively took part in the genocide of the Ovaherero and Nama. In 2016 the monument was defaced by members of the Reparations Now protest movement, which fights for compensation for the Ovaherero and Nama people’s loss of land during German colonial rule and the Genocide of 1904–1908. Marine Denkmal, Swakopmund, 2021. © Nicola Brandt.


Towards Ohamakari/Waterberg: The mountain and surrounding region are extensively referred to in Herero oral culture. In this context the Waterberg is referred to as ‘Kaondeka’. The Battle of Ohamakari took place on 11 August 1904 and was the decisive battle in the German campaign against the Ovaherero. Ohamakari lies in the Otjozondjupa Region, south-east of the Waterberg, in the heart of the land where the Ovaherero lived and where they grazed with their cattle before they were decimated during the war of 1904–1908 against the German colonial forces. On 2 October 1904, General Lothar von Trotha of the German colonial force occupying what was then referred to as Deutsch-Südwestafrika (present-day Namibia), issued an extermination order with the intention of wiping out the Ovaherero. Waterberg, 2016. © Nicola Brandt.


A Herero battle site marked by stones and trunks along the roadside, Otjozondjupa Region, 2012. © Nicola Brandt.


Graffiti at Khan Mine near Swakopmund, in a tributary of the Khan River. Development for the mining of copper commenced on this site in 1908 by the Khan Kupfergrube Gesellschaft. Khan River, 2022. © Nicola Brandt.


Donkeys on a track to a tin mine in the mountains above Uis, 2020. © Nicola Brandt.


Commemorative memorial stone on the edge of the OvaHerero, Nama, and San concentration camp and graveyard. Swakopmund, 2022. © Nicola Brandt.


A German fort-like home on Dr Kuaima Riruaka Avenue, previously Riverside Avenue in Swakopmund. The home resembles a fort and was built directly overlooking the concentration camp graveyard of Ovaherero, Nama and San., Swakopmund. 2013. © Nicola Brandt.


Camels next to the Woermann House horse-jumping hurdle, Swakopmund, 2021. © Nicola Brandt.


The Woermann House and tower–erected in 1894–is situated on Sam Nujoma Street in Swakopmund. The tower served as a water tower, landmark, and navigation point for the ships of the Woermann line. Founded in 1885 by the Hamburg merchant Adolph Woermann, the notorious shipping company operated for several years during the German colonial era between Europe and Africa. One of the company’s functions involved transporting contract laborers to various places on the African continent. Central Swakopmund, 2021. © Nicola Brandt.


Hotel lobby: staircase with framed image of Herero Paramount Chief Samuel Maharero (1856–1923), Swakopmund, 2021. © Nicola Brandt.


Reparations Now, protest march, Windhoek, 2016. © Nicola Brandt.


Nicola Brandt is a Namibian artist, writer, and the founder of the experimental residency and publishing platform “Conversations Across Place” (CaP). Brandt believes that art and activism can assist in facilitating cross-cultural dialogue, and social and environmental change. Her work has featured as part of intergovernmental talks between Namibia and Germany and has been presented at the National Art Gallery of Namibia, the MAXXI Museum in Rome, Italy, the Universities of Yale and Stanford in the United States, and the Würth Museum in Germany among other places. She is currently working on a photo book with Steidl Verlag that explores the entangled legacies of German colonialism.