words that matter most

here are some personal stories from this incredibly rich past year. because of these stories i am doing what i am doing.
'freedom to grow', the art of the umbrella movement, queen's rd.central, hong kong

one friday i sat at one of the tables on queen's road central. it was occupy time. and lunch time. two girls did their uni assignments in the ‘study area’ at the same table. behind me a carpenter made more tables. for more students. making space. building time. there was a general energy of helpfulness, politeness and presence. i myself did a plant carving dedicated to the movement. a women in her fivties sat down next to me with her lunch. she offered me some of the food from her lunch-box. we started talking. she was working as a warden in an underground car park. now during her lunch break was the only time she saw the sun. she told me she loved the umbrella movement: all of a sudden there was so much space in the middle of the city, there were people who had time, there were shared lunches and spontaneous conversations. you were not merely talking about the weather, you were talking about the things closest to your heart: about your ideals, about the future, about identity. it was the least thing i expected to happen in hongkong. i see hongkongers through different eyes now. i see that very near to the surface of conformity and obedience, there lies a deep longing for expression and freedom. when the women left she said ‘i love you’.

 '垃圾排檔 / lost'n'found', clockenflap 2014, west kowloon cultural district, hong kong
one of the most interesting conversations i had at clockenflap festival 2014 was with a toy designer. a plastic toy designer to be precise. she has been working in the toy business in china for over 30 years. so here we are, two women working with the same material, coming from exactly the opposite ends: she was designing and giving birth to plastic toys, i was picking up their remains after they had lived their consumer life. i have never heard so many up-to-date facts about chemical components, security standards, production procedures, recycling etc. and she was astonished about how much of it gets ‘lost’ in nature. funnily enough we felt very close. the last words were: 'i hate plastic' from both of us. 

'垃圾排檔 / lost'n'found', 'blue matters' campaign, ocean park hong kong

i was selling and talking trash at ocean park all day. as the closing of the park drew close flocks of people headed towards the exit streaming past the dai pai dong. ignoring the closing time a man approached the stall and looked at the items displayed on the shelves. after a while he said: 'my whole childhood is in this window.' and then he told me his story of when he was a little boy, his dad had given him a battery pack together with a tiny light bulb. exactly the same light bulb that i had found on the beach and put on display with the price tag 'response-ability'. as a boy he built a simple circuit by connecting the poles of the battery with the light bulb. it was magic. for hours he would hide under the blanket in his bed, play with the new discovery of electricity, read, think, sing ... it was his little world. just a blanket from the outside. his very own magic world inside. the man told me he works as a talk master for a radio station in hong kong. 'thank you' he said and left. i forgot his name. i will not forget his story and the moment it touched my story.

'mind your head' workshop for imagine peace 2014, pui o, lantau island, hong kong

judith and richard lang have been making art from marine debris for over 20 years now. they are from california, met on a beach and are still finding their art pieces on that very same beach. they came up with the term ‘curating the beach’. i love this term! 'curating' has its roots from the latin word ‘curare’ which means ‘to care for’ and at the same time ‘to cure’. by cleaning up a beach, we care and we cure that beach from its burden of trash. true magic is happening when not only that beach is being healed but at the same time it is us being healed. on the sunday of imagine peace 2014 on lantau island we did a nature walk to find trash&treasure for the workshop i was holding. we could all feel the magic happening. nature has the most forgiving and gentle embrace. there are no words for this. just gratitude. 

'垃圾山水 / trash-land-art no.11', shui hau beach, lantau, hongkong
i would like to thank each and everyone of you who has helped me realise my visions in 2014. everyone who has picked up trash and changed the landscape with their own two hands. everyone who has contributed to raise awareness and changed the inner landscape with their positive attitude. anyone who changed some of their consuming habits. anyone who has passed on the word, who spread the images or who simply read this blog. thank you from the bottom of my heart!


river of rubbish / 垃圾之河

 shui hau is a very special beach in hong kong: walking along the shore line mudskippers seemingly run on top of the water and make my children scream with excitement. fiddler crabs flash their bright red claws, mangroves grow in abundance and in its shallow waters horse-shoe crabs live. horse-shoe crabs are living fossils, having been around for 450 million years. shui hau is a rich habitat for wild life and is largely ignored by tourists except nature photographers and kite-surfers.

and even though there are so few people to be seen on this beach, the human impact is overwhelming and shocking: hundred meters of shoreline are polluted with waste washed in by the last typhoon. the mangroves are covered in plastic bags and fishing ropes, looking like decorated christmas trees. in the undergrowth styrofoam boxes and their remnants are piling up knee-deep. even though i'm living just 20 minutes away from this beach i did not know about this situation until someone posted a picture on facebook. so i went and had a look myself. the first impression was that of a 'river of rubbish': the rubbish was trapped between the mangroves and the natural tree line. that in itself being awful enough the thought that all of this rubbish is usually washed back into the ocean made me feel sick. tons and tons of plastic are circling in the world oceans, poisoning waterskilling sea life and ultimately getting back into our food-chain.

as an artist i don't have a solution at hand. i only know a solution for myself, for the sickness that i feel when seeing nature being abused. and that is action. awareness. and art. it converts my anxiety and my anger into something visible and positive. it brings people and community together. it makes us feel good and heals nature. and by doing so it heals ourselves.

river of rubbish / 垃圾之河
shui hau, lantau, hong kong 2014 / 水口,大嶼山 2014
No.11 of the series trash-land-art / 垃圾山水」系列作品11 
by liina klauss 

all items on this photo are waste washed ashore. they have been collected on one single beach within 24h by 80 people. colours are neither manipulated manually nor digitally. the reality of pollution you see has merely been rearranged. 

照片展示了一堆於海灘擱淺的廢物,它們由八十位人員於一天內收集。奪目的雜物絕非製於人手,也不經電腦調色,你目睹的,是被重新排列的污染物… 你也可以把垃圾變作鮮艷河道!您每天都會消耗許多日常用品嗎?不如重建您的日常概念,改變您的購買習慣,為了更美好的香港,作出減耗的明智之舉吧!



Date: Friday 31st Oct.   2-5pm
Location: Shui Hau beach, Lantau
Activity: Collecting colours/waste
liina klauss is supporting Plastic Free Seas' swim challenge with an art installation: liina will be painting a huge stream of colours made entirely from waste washed ashore. Please come and join: you can help collect colours of waste, coordinate the hues and shades or directly help laying out the art work. Because of the huge dimensions of the art work we will continue and complete the installation on Saturday 1st Nov. 

Date: Saturday 1st Nov.  9am-2pm
Location: Shui Hau beach, Lantau
Waste-to-Art Installation: 9am-12pm / Photo shoot: 12-1pm / Clean-up: 1-2pm
On Saturday we will complete the installation and take pictures: please help spread the pictures on social networks so as many people as possible will get in contact with this sad reality! On Shui Hau and many of Hong Kong's beaches, we need as many helping hands as possible to clean up.

Plastic Free Seas swim challenge will have Bruce Pye and his Coach Olivier Baillet swimming 75km around Lantau Island. On Saturday 1st, their fouth day swimming, they will arrive on Shui Hau beach. Don't miss it! 

More details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/454241448047059

Please bring:
- Proper shoes (no flip-flops)
- Drinking water (minimum 2-3l per person, there's no fresh water on the beach)
- Snacks
- Hat and sunscreen
- Disinfectant

Thanks so much for your support. 
It means the world to us.

Tracey & liina

<---  Painting a beautiful picture of an ugly truth! 
On that day we'll all be painters and we'll be creating a huge stream of colours to make everyone see this reality. Don't forget your camera!

From Mui Wo: Bus No.1 (to Tai O) or No.2 (to Ngong Ping). 
From Tung Cheung: Bus No.11 (to Tai O) or No.23 (to Ngong Ping). 
Tell the bus driver you want to get off at "Shui Hau Wan beach" or "kite-surfing beach" and follow the signs from there.
double-click map to enlarge


mind your head

'mind your head' is my workshop contribution to imagine peace festival 2014 on lantau island, hongkong. we let ourselves be inspired by the extravaganza of nature and create our own head-piece made from the beauty that surrounds us: lush leaves, green grass, fresh fruit and flowers. and off we go to find all of these adornments on our walk along the beach and through the beautiful wetlands of pui o. apart from natural objects we find bottle caps, fishing nets and a lot of broken down pieces of plastic. we take our findings and turn them into bouquets on each other's heads, just like children adorn each other. it is an act of giving and receiving. by adorning our heads with beauty of the natural world and the throw-aways of the human world, our heads are decorated on the outside. on the inside we start to think: why is there so much rubbish in nature? where does it come from? where does it go to? questions like children ask. honest questions hard to find a simple answer to. 

the process of adorning each other with the treasures of nature honors ourselves and is a deep prayer to the beauty of mother nature herself. let her be healed. and let us heal within her.


catch-of-the-day at PIF2014

"catch of the day" or "floating polke-dots" is part of pangkor island festival 2014 (PIF2014) bringing art, awareness and action to this small on the west coast of malaysia. the installation is made entirely from waste found on beaches of the island. the artist liina klauss is raising awareness for the problem of marine pollution. "most of the waste comes from residents themselves" liina says, "and this is not a problem that only exists on pangkor: this is a global problem and it has taken on horrifying proportions."

with the help of pangkor residents as well as volunteers from all over asia, liina has been cleaning-up beaches on the island to find materials needed for floating her installation. "we bought nothing to make the art piece" one of the volunteers says,"all is taken from the beach or borrowed by the neighbours!" the process of making art from nothing brings people into direct contact with pollution like marine debris. by collecting found materials, cleaning them, sorting them by colour and transforming them into an installation see, touch and experience a problem physically. as liina says: "what you touch, touches you", meaning that by physically helping to clean-up change is happening not only on the outside, but also on the inside. this said, the art-making process is an integral part of the installation and as important as the result itself. by integrating the local community the residents come in direct contact with the effects of their behaviour and the impact it has on nature, on wildlife and on the community. 

during an artist talk held during her one week stay on pangkor island, liina shared facts about marine pollution and her environmental activism, giving residents a chance to grasp the consequences and global dimensions of marine pollution. liina's art encourages people to deal with problems in a creative and collaborative way. "seeing and recognizing the problem is the first step towards taking action!" liina says. 
(text taken from the press release for PIF2014)

more photos and stories on www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.573255786131128.1073741835.454668841323157&type=3



i went into the ocean today and someone advised me to go see a doctor afterwards. 
but it is the ocean that needs a doctor! 
isn't it time that we care for and heal the ocean from the pollution, the disrespect and ignorance we burden upon it? 
can't you hear the ocean cry? 
the ocean is suffering tremendously and still we keep looking away. 
we need to change our mind-set. now. 

'catch of the day', installation for PIF2014, pangkor island, malaysia

please watch:   www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nn408gmFHqM   thank you. 
here is what KiniTV wrote about my art-awareness-activism:

"You dump, I jump" - German artist protests sea pollution KiniTV

Appalled by the sight of floating rubbish around Pulau Pangkor, one of the visiting exhibitors of the Pangkor Festival, German artist Liina Klauss took an impromptu leap into the rubbish-filled water as a gesture of protest.
She said people need to be educated about the importance of environmental conservation.


'floating polka-dots' for PIF2014

pulau pangkor is a tiny island off the west coast of malaysia, a 4h-drive away from kuala lumpur. the island of only 8km² was well known for its beautiful beaches two decades back but has been forgotten since, one reason being the pollution of nature and waters. this pollution is mainly caused by the residents themselves. to change mind-set and behaviour PIF2014 invited me to do an environmental installation at PIF2014. 'floating polka-dots' will be my first ocean-art installation ever - so exciting!

this year's pangkor island festival has a focus on environmental art and education. "By inviting artists to the island, it not only encourages interaction amongst Pangkorians, but also fosters new interaction between locals and artists, thus adding a new dimension to the livelihood of Pangkor communities. Pangkor Island Festival aspires to integrate community culture, history and folklore with local tourism, highlight the best of Pangkor’s unique local delicacies as well as its touristic and scenic attractions. It will be a grand celebration where both Pangkorians and visitors are welcome to join in the fun!" (quote from www.pangkorislandfestival.com)

the land-art installation that i'm planing for PIF is 'floating polka-dots'. from far away it will look like colourful circles floating in the water. coming closer people will notice that these circles are actually made from marine debris. 
photoshop montage for 'floating polka-dots' 2014,  pangkor island, malaysia
i've been working with ocean debris since 2011 using it as medium and color palette. up to now i have been doing land-art installations directly on the beach. 'floating polka-dots' will be the first installation actually situated in the ocean. apart from being new and exciting this is very meaningful to me. all of the waste that i work with has been in the ocean, sometimes for decades. most of this waste is plastic and since plastic never goes away, we have millions of tons of plastic debris accumulating in our oceans (www.coastalcare.org/2009/11/plastic-pollution). with 'floating polka-dots' i'm showing the impact of our human behaviour on the oceans. it is a grave reminder to be sensitive to the waters that surround us and not to pollute.

i'm often asked why i'm doing what i'm doing. in the broadest sense i'm inspired by nature. i love being outdoors, exposed to the elements and surrounded by the beauty of wilderness. the fragrance of a blossom, the force of salty winds from the sea, the joy of fresh green, the calm when the sun goes down, all of these are most valuable moments for me. seeing the left-overs of our consumerist society and its fatal implications in this pristine environment makes me feel ashamed, sick and angry all at the same time. i want to wake up the world and take action right away!
saying that, it's quite a different feeling when i'm on the beach, creating an art piece. i usually don't listen too much to that critical voice. it can make me quite depressed. immersed in the creative process, i see the world the way a child might see it. looking at rubbish this way, i perceive colors and shapes. i see value and potential within these materials: endless possibilities of rearranging them, combining them into new shapes and forms, into stories that no one has heard before, pictures no one has seen before. aren't these discarded objects are a mirror of our society? of our desires, our conveniences,of our selfishness and of our ignorance. 
my art installations give me the chance to hold a mirror in front of our consumerist society so we may see our mistakes and change them. and so we may see the beauty of nature and love, enjoy and preserve it! combining these two aspects by unifying criticism and awareness is what my art is about.

apart from doing a land-art installation (or should i call it ocean-art installation:) i will be sharing my experiences of working with waste within nature on monday night. for details please visit www.pangkorislandfestival.com/系列活動/分享會/sharing-session-linna-klauss/

i'm very much looking forward to the creative process and the collaboration with PIF! let's see what the oceans bring us!