Venus Jasper is a queer visual artist, storyteller, world builder, performative priestess, researcher, educator, writer, and curator, currently based in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

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Wetlands Worship

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Project photograph by Nina Allmoschlechner, 2023.

I am currently working on Wetlands Worship, a research project around the revival of ecological kinship with wetlands and the speculative investigation of drained wetlands and swamps, the sentiments and sediments of wetland goddesses, new rituals and musical offerings, which also entails the rekindling of lost skills and materials and critical assessment of contemporary industries. The research into wetlands and swaps started after ending my first big soloshow, EARTHSHRINE, after which i felt that it was actually the wetland spaces like swamps that called me deeply - since my early childhood.

The project involves research, story and text writing, songwriting, music, video, costumes, and looks — and eventually a music record and a live show including a sculptural scenography.
Wetlands Worship is a personal homecoming for my murky dark emotional feelings around climate decay and the disenfranchised world — it is a way of using my voice, my embodiment, and my art skills to step up my creative concerns for the world.

How did it start?

I started this project at Rupert, Vilnius, in 2023, where I joined the symposium 𝘌𝘈𝘙𝘛𝘏 𝘉𝘖𝘕𝘋𝘚 with the site-specific live performance OAKBallZ and EELSkin, in which I voice the anger and desolation of the wetlands and swamps that are historically and currently drained, polluted and mistreated.

The performance took place within an installation titled Murky Medicine Swamp, an installation comprised soil, branches, water, fog, fog machine, cement bricks, ants, water beetles, lichen, moss, lab equipment, stone, logs, plastics, silicone tubes, clay, spray paint, twig baskets, mushrooms, video projectors, speakers, lights. Both works were part of a 3-day program which also featured: Victoria Ivanova (Serpentine Galleries), Sofia Lemos (TBA21–Academy), Lina Martin-Chan and Calum Bowden (Trust), Aoife Fannin (Gallery Climate Coalition (GCC)), HASHIA, Jenna Sutela, Barnett Cohen and others.

I had so much fun creating the silk cape with natural dyes made of Oak gall balls, plants foraged at an Amsterdam cruising area, and rust dyes made of old discarded bike parts. I graffitied this cape-canvas with my new airbrush to create some symbols and eco-activist logos reminiscent of my drawing series. In the live ritual I gave it my all with a vocal prayer to remind us of the wetlands goddesses we once worshipped. It is imspiring me to make sculptures and investigate more materials to be crafted together.

My performance in Rupert. I am standing in the installation Murky Medicine Swamp, wearing the cape I made with natural dyes from Dutch queer swamp-y areas.

After Lithuania I went to Iceland, where I spent the month of June at the wonderful SÍM Residency, in Reykjavik. Here, I've experienced the earth shaking, as we awaited the eruption of Litli-Hrúturof, I worked the costume that I collaborated on with Peachy Clam and prepared for a photo and video shoot for Murky Murky, Little Bitch Witch. In the same travel to Iceland, I performed the work Herring God Moanz at LungA Festival, in the town Seyðisfjörður on the eastern shores of Iceland.

Supported by musician Diego Manatrizio, the work offered an emotional and lyrical sonic space that dwells somewhere between a music concert and a shamanic ritual for a Cod Fish. With 150 people inside an old rusty fish SILO, formerly used to ferment the bodies of 1000's of Cod-Fish, I pondered the lack of praise for these sources of sustenance: "Who owns the Fish? Who owns the Land?" I say, "Herring HodZ. Rust Dust - Never has there been a shrine erected." Herring God Moanz was a ritual of transformation, praise and grief.

In Seyðisfjörður, I also showed the work 𝘏𝘦𝘳𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘨𝘰𝘥; an installation made of stones, driftwood, building rubble, and flowers holding the hand-made wetsuit I created earlier, placed like a dead man on a grave. The work was exhibited alongside Power Stone. It was exciting to perform and show alongside Pussy Riot, Miles Greenberg, Vidar Logi, Ada M. Patterson, Á. Birna Björnsdotti and others.

At the end of 2023, I went to take part in the Earthbound symposium between Earthwise Residency and the University of Aarhus, Denmark. Here I spoke alongside of Norwegian-Sámi choreographer and dancer Katarina Skår Lisa and showed my Murky Murky video. I also visited the Moesgaard museum to get closer to the bog body presented there, and that was very special. In 2025 and 2027 I will return to this collaboration with a workshop, talk and possible exhibition.

After winter, I took a pilgrimage to Angelsey island, Wales, said to be one of the last strongholds of druids against the Roman invasion. It was intensely moving to situate myself in the Menai straight, where the crossing of paradigms between indigenous folks and the Empire within Europe is symbolized so powerfully. The vision of Angelsey and the stronghold it was found it's way in my music record, as I see similarities in this last stand mirrored in the resistance against empire and fascism elsewhere today.

In May, I went for the whole month towards the Everglades National Park in South Florida as part of a residency at AIRIE. I explored the unique wetlands ecosystem there, investigated how swamps and wetlands are historic places of refuge against empire. Here, I created a series of ceramic objects that can function as hatching-bowls for mosquitos, a paria-species that is globally hated it seems. I presented these at the NEST Gallery inside the national park. I also gave and artist talk and Q&A at Green Space Miami, with Lee Pivnik of the Institute of Queer Ecology.

The ceramic works that I am making are a prelude of the ceramic production residency I am a part of in 2025, at the EKWC. More on these shapes and designs soon.

How is it going?

At the moment, I am working in my studio on a series of sculptures, fountains, and sacred bio-lab installations where uneasy organism live and populate ritualistic sculptures. I am organizing open-studios from time to time to share the process with those curious. I am also crafting a music record that stems from this research to be released in 2024, and a documentary video-installation about my childhood in the swamps.

More soon!


Project results:

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The Wetlands Worship research has been made possible by Amsterdam Fund of the Arts, Amarte, Mondriaan Fund.