“We are building the boat ourselves now – of higher quality, with a good motor and features that make it safer than crossing the sea in a raft. I’ll remake the experience but in a good way. I’ll be at ease and unafraid. There are many safety features on a luxury boat. It will be a different experience.” Nawras Alwali
The boat making workshop takes place at the BBK Sculpture Workshop in Berlin-Wedding. The Sculpture Workshop provides excellent conditions and equipment for building boats. Its facilities have an overall size of 3600 square meters with 12 meters high ceilings. Workshop supervisors are on hand to offer technical advice, provide information on specific materials and tools, and help with developing solutions for unconventional ideas.
Making Waves was initiated by artist and educator Daniel Seiple. The workshop is led by Seiple with refugees Hassan Aji, Nawras Alwali, Hanna Jarada, and a dedicated crew of volunteers. The team offers an array of expertise, skills and experiences. In 2016, Seiple worked for the Berlin-based boat company, Bootsmanufaktur GmbH, to restore the Don Juan, an historic steel and wooden barge, which was widely seen in 2013 carrying the entourage of Queen Elizabeth on the Spree River. He also teaches for Syracuse University (NY) in Berlin.
Team: Hassan Aji, Nawras Alwali, Hiba Alyounes, Nafee Kurdy, Hanna Jarada, Wafa Mustafa, Daniel Seiple
Intern: Marketa Fagan, Bard College Berlin
Power of Shared Activity
Making Waves asserts the power of shared experience, craft and the promise of increased mobility. By designing a workshop in which refugees craft their own luxurious ride, Making Waves presents a more ambiguous cultural image than the ones presented by the media, politics and aid organizations. It is not an attempt to counter the image or offer an alternative exoticism. It is an attempt to complicate the image, to create a new narrative, so that we may pay attention to it instead of passively dismissing it as known.
Making Waves is interested in creating forms of representation for refugees beyond the static and traditional symbols of victimization, passivity and poverty. The workshop format provides a model to reconcile knowledge and sentience through action. Far from utopian, the workshop aims to confront cultural and social conflict, and the challenges of assimilation through artistic, discursive and personal means.
Making Waves will take shape in many forms, as a workshop, expedition, documentary video and motorboat. The documentary will follow the workshop, the boat's construction and the group's adventures with it. Participants are also encouraged to film, so as to be co-authors of the collective story. By recording their conversations, the minutia of their labor, leisure and divergent personal stories, the video intends to offer multiple viewpoints that destabilize the predominant portrayal of refugees and contemporary European life. The outcome of the boat will be posed as a question to the group – whether to sell it, for example, or use for further refugee/cultural/leisure activities.
© 2017 Making Waves