“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, workshop participant
Making Waves is a project that invites refugees to build a motorboat. Participants engage in all stages of the boat’s construction from design to completion. The workshop offers experience in carpentry, boat-building and more. When the vessel is complete, we will explore Berlin’s abundant waterways and converse about the different paths that led us here.
More than a workshop
Building a boat is an ambitious activity, which provides a context in which to share our stories, and discuss the challenges of migration, assimilation and cultural difference. We envision the boat as an exploratory vehicle for cultural research and local engagement. We will make it accessible for public use by offering private tours, boat shares and other leisurely uses! We will invite cultural organizations, artists and scholars to use it for special events and short-term residencies.
Around our activities, we’re producing a film, which documents the construction of the boat and our adventures on it. The film will veer between genres – a documentary, how-to, adventure and nature film all in one. By recording our conversations, labor, leisure and divergent personal stories, we hope to offer multiple viewpoints that challenge the portrayal of refugees and contemporary European life.
Your support will buy the materials we need! The more we raise, the bigger we build, the faster we go!
Why a Motorboat?
By designing a workshop in which refugees craft their own luxurious ride, we create a more ambiguous cultural image than the ones presented by the media, politics or aid organizations. It is not an attempt to counter this image. It is our intent to complicate the image, to create a new narrative, so that one might take notice, rather than passively dismissing it as known.
We are 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 emotions through action. Far from utopian, the workshop aims to confront cultural and social conflict, and the challenges of assimilation through artistic, constructive and personal means.
Making Waves was initiated by artist and educator Daniel Seiple. The workshop is led by Seiple with refugees Hassan Aji, Nawras Alwali, Hanna Jarada, Nafee Kurdy 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 (pictured at the bottom of this page).
Left to right: Nafee Kurdi, Hassan Aji, Nawras Alwali, Daniel Seiple, Adriana Bianchi, Bettina Lamprecht, Hanna Jarada, Yamen Almekary. Not pictured: Hiba Alyounes, Emily Moore, Wafa Mustafa
Berlin has welcomed over 100,000 refugees in the past three years. At the beginning of this year, we presented the idea of a boat workshop at local shelters and other refugee initiatives. With immediate interest, we began hosting weekly model boat making workshops. Participants carved boats out of wood, sculpted them in clay, and constructed scale models as a means to learn about boat design and various construction techniques. From these sessions, our core team developed, which continues to meet weekly to craft models and plan what motorboat we will build. We encourage people of all ages, backgrounds and cultures to join.Through the workshop, we have been invited to talk in public forums, exhibit our models, and meet local artists, educators and boat builders.
Facilities – We will construct the boat at the BBK Sculpture Workshop whose facilities make it possible for us to even dream about this project! The Sculpture Workshop provides ideal conditions and equipment for building boats, including industrial machines, power tools, cranes and forklifts. Supervisors are on hand to offer technical advice, provide information on specific materials and tools, and help with developing solutions for unconventional ideas.
Technical Support – We are excited to have many great partners providing support and opportunities for the workshop and its participants! The boat restoration company, Bootsmanufaktur GmbH, with its team of qualified boat builders offers technical guidance and consultation. The Caritas Refugee Shelter in Berlin-Wedding provides access to its qualified team of social workers. We also coordinate with other local refugee initiatives including ZUsammenKUNFT and the Arabic-German magazine Eed be Eed.
Exhibitions and Cultural Partners – We are grateful to already have multiple opportunities to exhibit our work! After our campaign, we will exhibit our model boats, videos and Kickstarter rewards at the Museum Lichtenberg in Berlin. When our boat is finished, we are invited to travel the inland canals from Berlin to Strasbourg, France and exhibit our boat with the arts organization, Apollonia Art Exchanges. This wonderful art space sits directly next to the European Parliament where international policy on refugees and immigration is debated. Apollonia helped fund our model making workshops earlier this year. As part of their exhibition, Philoxenia / e.city - Berlin, we exhibited our models and participated in a public roundtable discussion with other initiatives from the region.
… is to cover the cost for all the materials related to building a motorboat – marine plywood, lumber, epoxy, paint, fasteners, upholstered seats, lights and other components. It will also pay for a seasonal motor rental, docking fee, and of course, your rewards. Our labor is voluntary. We consider our efforts an investment! Those who help build the boat will be given a stake in its ownership respective to their contributions. Accordingly, if we ever decide to sell the boat, it will be a collective decision with shared profit.
Our rewards are designed to share our experience with you! We provide poetic gestures, surprise treasure, beach towels, artworks and much more. Each week we will offer one hand-crafted model boat! We also invite you to use the real boat! We provide rentals, charters and boat-shares! Explore Berlin on your own or with our captain! For top supporters, check out our Club Status with exciting benefits and your name engraved on a prestigious plaque! Here’s a sampling.....
10€ – Shout out from the middle of a lake!
35 € – We'll teach you how to say "Making Waves" in Arabic!
50€ – Captain's Hat
150€ – Join us for a round of shuffle board! We constructed our shuffle board after playing the same game with Marty, a friend from Ocean City, Maryland. He is the son of a Norwegian shipbuilder who emigrated to the United States. His father needed a lid for a crate that was carrying his grandfather clock – so he used this game. Ours will be the first piece of our boat – the underside of a bench or table. Until we start, we'll keep playing.
175€ – Limited edition print by artist Ali Fitzgerald
We are thrilled to offer you an artwork by artist Ali Fitzgerald who has been a dedicated volunteer for refugees in Berlin. Ali is a regular contributor to the New York Magazine. Her comics and drawings have appeared in the Huffington Post, The New Yorker, Art21, Vox, Modern Painters, Gastronomica, Berlin Quarterly and more. Her first graphic novel will be published by Fantagraphics in 2018. Print size: 29.7 x 42.0 cm (11.69 x 16.53 in)
200€ – Dry off with one of our limited edition beach towels! Designed by our very own Hiba Alyounes! 140 x 70 cm (55 x 27 in)
300€ – Join us on board to watch the sunset (drinks included)
These are our workshop learning models. Each one is hand-made with its own individual story. We will offer 1 per week! Follow us so we can send you updates or click here to see the boat of the week. You will have 6-chances in 6-weeks to buy one!
Boat Rentals, Charters and Sharing
- 400€ – A spin around the lake! Max. 1 hour
- 600€ – 1/2 Day Pleasure ride
- 1000€ – Full Day Pleasure ride
- 1600€ – East-West Berlin River Tour (Commodore's Club)
- 2500€ – 7-day Boat-Share (Commodore's Club)
- A driver is included in all the rewards except the 7-day Boat Share, for which a driver can be hired. Otherwise, a license (SBF) is required to drive the boat.
- We will not decide how big to build the boat until after the campaign, but we expect it to carry at least 5-8 people. The same goes for where we dock the boat. Berlin has innumerable moorings. We'll likely be on Wannsee or near Müggelsee. Both are accessible with public transport. We'll keep you posted!
Club Rewards and Christening Ceremony
Each of our top rewards is different and offers unique status – Yacht, Captain’s or Commodore’s Club – for which your name will be engraved on a Club Plaque and displayed in the boat. In addition to each specific reward, members will receive invitations to our much anticipated boat christening and maiden voyage, tentatively, scheduled for June 2018! We will break the ceremonial bottle of champagne, unveil the boat’s name and sing songs of the sea! It will be momentous! Celebrate with us, the crew, friends, family and other club members. For more details, check out each reward!
A song for our launch! (courtesy of Stephan Apicella-Hitchcock at the Steamboat Natchez)
Making Waves is a local refugee- and artist-run initiative for the community and we want it to be community funded. We also realize that our “community” is one formed as much by global issues as by locale. That’s why we’re using Kickstarter! Wherever you are, we hope you'll share our experience.
About Daniel Seiple
Daniel Seiple is an American artist who moved to Berlin nearly 15 years ago. In 2016, he worked for the Bootsmanufaktur GmbH, a local boat restoration company. He has initiated and directed several large scale artistic projects and workshops in Germany and abroad. He is a founding member of the non-profit KUNSTrePUBLIK e.V., in which he worked as artist, curator, researcher and activist at Skulpturenpark Berlin_Zentrum and in other public art contexts. He is currently employed by Syracuse University, New York for whom he administers a graduate art residency in Berlin. Since 2016, Seiple volunteers with various grassroots organizations that offer multilingual workshops and services to Berlin’s burgeoning immigrant population.
Risks and challenges
We realize that building a large motorboat is a very ambitious project for newly settled refugees, volunteers and first-time builders. But it is not more challenging, nor even more costly than the trips we took to get here. We did not want to leave our homes. Most of us didn’t even have a chance to think about where we would go, until we were on a raft halfway across the sea. But we arrived safely, with different stories, and we know we can build a boat, because we want to!
We expect it will take roughly 6-months to construct the boat. Our goal is to be ready for Summer. We will be following professional boat plans that use plywood construction. This method is economical and ideal for first-time builders. It requires adequate carpentry skills, but not the intensive processes such as steam bending and planking.
Of course, delays are possible! This is entirely a volunteer project, and refugees who are going through the immigration protocol have typically busy schedules, consisting of German courses and mandatory job training. We will be inviting more participants and setting up multiple teams. Most importantly, Seiple and the core team will work consistently to assure the boat’s completion.
We are hard-working, committed and passionate. For us, this is more than just about building a boat! With a spirit of camaraderie, we’re constructing a collective object that carries our histories, emotions and ambitions for the future! This is the beginning of our journey. Our workshop leader, Daniel Seiple, also has a proven track record of creating workshops, films and large-scales public projects in Berlin and around the world.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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