GFLK Galerie für Landschaftskunst
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Klara Hobza: Departure Diary                                                        german version

 

August 28th, 2009

 

Dear Till,

 

Attached I'm sending you my proposal for the exhibition. What do you think? Is it doable?

 

All the best from the Swedish forest,

 

Klara

 

 

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August 29th, 2009

 

What a plan!

 

Yes, absolutely, count us in.

 

Till

 

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September 4th, 2009

 

Dear Till,

 

There has been good progress on my research on shipping! I was able to speak with some experts and so far found out:

 

The only international port is Port Newark in New Jersey. Having a closer look at the East River is frightening.

 

Pricing among shipping agencies varies significantly. All suggests that the freight business is a dirty one. I was advised to send all as private household goods and hobby supplies, not to insure anything and either way, to keep my hopes low.

 

Timing might be another problem. One company claimed 3 weeks, and the next one 8-10 weeks. I have to look into that better.

 

For now, all the best,

Klara

 

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September 5th, 2009

 

Lieber Till,

 

Thank you very much for your fast reply. Actually, it would be yet better to wait for another few days, as here things are changing on a nearly hourly basis. For example, there might even be a flicker of hope, that I have already found the perfect raft! Happily, five young men docked around the corner of my apartment, at the smelly Newtown creek.

 

I was advised to consider the likelihood of my raft, including its freight, sinking in the East River.

 

And even if I did manage to make it to Port Newark: An employee reported that it was common to throw containers overboard during storms. Which explains the vast price differences: The further down and the further in the middle, the pricier.... I'm sure, my container will be the one way on top way on the outside.

 

It looks like another group of young people has docked right outside of our studio at the Navy Yard. They came on a retired tugboat where they are keeping chickens. A colleague who means well is trying to put me in touch with them. You would not believe how expensive and difficult it is to dock in the New York waters! Rumor has it that they spent several tens of thousands of dollars. The good thing is that they might consider giving me a ride.

 

Either way, my cut-off date for getting the packages out is September the 15th..

 

In general, I am confident that the vulnerability of this enterprise is going to work in favor of the exhibition. The consequences of related efforts and possible mistakes will end up being of good use, I believe.

 

 

Warm greetings from Brooklyn and have a good trip,

Klara

 

PS. Attached you can find a possible docking spot in front of my studio.

 

 

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September 6th, 2009

 

Dear Till,

 

Just a quick update --- with much luck, I have met a couple of hippies. They have rafted down the Hudson River for three weeks and just arrived in New York. It looks like, in exchange for a modest amount, I can talk them into rafting me and my packages over to Port Newark.

 

If they will indeed do it, then the whole thing will go down as soon as tomorrow! That would indeed be the best case scenario.

 

Attached please see the hippies and their raft. Note the buffalo skull.

 

All the best from Brooklyn,

Klara

 

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...and a strong engine...  (Till)

 

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September 7th, 2009

 

Dear Till,

 

I am embarrassed to admit that today, the hippies bailed out on me. They claim to be scared of the authorities, whatever that means. I believe, they're just too lazy. Never trust a hippie.

 

And don't get me started on the maritime artists. They are the worst. From the get go there was no co-operation to be had from them.

 

Only one week left, but I remain in confidence,

Klara

 

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September 8th, 2009

 

Dear Till,

 

Good news from New York:

 

I just came back from a very promising meeting with John McGarvey, artist, activist and maritime expert. He is a friend of Erwin Redl, for whom I had been working as artist assistant. John is director of a local kayaking club, and organizes many ambitious projects in the waters of NYC, such as http://www.thewaterpod.org/.

 

He really got into my plans and promised to leave no stone unturned to get me a docking permit at the Navy Yard. There was even talk of a documentary team. Let's see how far we get. Perhaps I will have to revise my attitude towards hippies. In any case, the packages are sealed!

 

All the best and talk to you on Wednesday,

Klara

 

 

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September 9th, 2009

 

Dear Till,

 

You should see the poverty ridden docks of Port Newark! My faithful friend Annie and I went to scout out docking spots, getting utterly lost in industrial maze. The tough truckers were rather concerned with our fate. Good hearted souls kept stopping “Are you alright?”, “Do you need help?”, “Are you lost?”. Finally, a toothless prophet who was camping at the edge of at a gas station pointed us to the gates of Hell. We kept choking on the foul, fermented smells of the docks.

 

Cameras were strictly forbidden, but in the attachment, you can see some pictures we later took from across the water.

 

So glad to have made it back. As I'm eating my sandwich, I can still taste the grime of poverty.

 

More soon,

Klara

 

 

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September 10th, 2009

 

Dear Till,

 

Attached please find the transcript from the radio:

 

Czech-born artist Klara Hobza has lived and worked in New York for the last 7 years. With a heavy heart, she now has to say goodbye and return to Europe. Hobza is headed to Hamburg, where, in her   first solo exhibition, she will present the art she has created in New York.

 

The artist decided to chose a rather unconventional way of transporting her works. Teaming up with maritime activist Paul Lerin, she will tie her art onto a makeshift raft which will be tugged by a small boat from her studio at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. They will head south through the heavy currents of the East River to lower Manhattan, where Hobza will pay tribute to the Statue of Liberty, an eternal symbol of migration. The journey will then continue around the southern tip of Bayonne, New Jersey until it reaches Port Newark, the location of New York's international shipyard. Finally, Hobza will load her art and raft onto a container ship bound for Hamburg, Germany.

 

Hobza will meet the gallery's organizer Till Krause upon arrival at the shipyard in Hamburg, where she will once again load her artwork onto the raft. Towed by a smaller boat, they will ship the freight through Hamburg’s river Elbe until they reach the foot of the gallery, which happens to sit right on a canal in the city center. They will pull the artworks—along with the raft—up into the gallery through its windows. The raft will then be transformed into a display structure for Hobza's art.

 

Klara Hobza's exhibition will open on November 13th at Galerie für Landschaftskunst

[www.gflk.de].

 

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September 11th, 2009

 

Dear Till,

 

Finally some tailwind:

 

Veteran and environmental activist Paul Lerin agreed to take me to New Jersey! In the attachment is the boat for tugging and he even has a raft I can use!

 

More soon,

Klara

 

PS. about Lerin's activities...

http://www.waterfrontalliance.org/partners/bionautics-corp

 

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September 11th, 2009

 

Fwd: From Paul Lerin:

 

pic's of vessel .......

 

 

K, This will be the Tow boat

 

 

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September 12th, 2009

 

Dear Till,

 

just real quick, have to get back to raft building –

 

attached the Dublin Express. She will bring my freight over the Atlantic!

 

 

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September 13th, 2009

 

Dear Till,

 

Two poetic moments amidst a hectic day of raft building:

 

My studio mate Zach moved here from Kansas. In need of vast space, in need of a horizon line, he saved his sanity and learned to navigate the New York waters.

 

Liz noted that I could always send the art works in a bottle.

 

 

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September 14th, 2009

 

Dear Till,

 

Thank you very much for your supportive emails! This is how things stand at the moment:

 

The ship is supposed to depart from Port Newark on September 23rd, and supposedly takes 15 days. (As if!). The confirmation number is NYHAM10054.

 

Attached please find the Seaway Bill, as well as our route from the Brooklyn Navy Yard to Port Newark.

 

Talk to you very soon!

Klara

 

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September 14th, 2009

 

Dear New York City friends and fellow art colleagues!

 

As you might already know, I'm leaving New York.

 

Tomorrow, at 10 AM, I'm departing on a boat from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, tugging my art works on a raft behind me. I will sail off to Port Newark, where the international shipping port is awaiting me.

 

It's too late to celebrate a good-bye party. However, if you should have time, come on over tomorrow morning, for a farewell shot of my Grandfather's Slivovic, and for waving me good-bye.

 

You can find me at 10 AM (sharp), departing from the Fire Department's dock, in front of building 292. When you enter the Navy Yard, you will be asked to show an I.D. and to give a company name. This code name is "Sibony". Then, just follow the signs to building 292, in front of which you cannot miss the firefighter's docks.

 

If you should get lost, call 917-599-7873.

 

For more info on how to get to the Navy Yard:

http://www.brooklynnavyyard.org/direction.html

 

Hope to see you tomorrow, otherwise - farewell, dear friends!

Klara

 

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September 15th, 2009

 

Wow, Klara, it's happening! How I wish I could be there! Most of all, I regret not to get any of the Slivovic, as I profoundly enjoy the good home brew.

 

Can't wait to hear how things will turn out today!

Till

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September 16th, 2009

 

Dear Till,

 

The transport was in danger up to the last moment. John, my maritime adviser, had hooked me up with Paul, war veteran and maritime environmental activist.

 

Paul agreed to come with a boat, tugging a raft. In the meantime, John was supposed to secure a docking permit with his buddies at the Navy Yard.

 

However, in the last three days, neither John nor Paul called back. In my panic, I started collecting materials at the Navy Yard to throw together a raft. Finally, Paul called the afternoon before the big action. Yet, still no word from John.

 

(Note: Later it turned out that John was involved in a political action at the UN and had gotten arrested.)

 

So, Monday morning, I rushed around the Navy Yard like a beheaded chicken, trying to secure a docking permit, walking up to any security guard I could spot. I tried to explain the urgency of returning to Europe with my things. A couple of compassionate souls tried to convince their boss, but he said “No. We never do that.” As they saw me turn pale, they thought of one last chance: The firefighters! Incidentally, the N.Y.F.D. parks their boats right in front of my studio building! So I leaped over to their office, and really, Till, I worked it! I mean, anything I could do to win them over to my plan. Indeed some of them were rather grouchy, but once the doughnuts arrived, they reluctantly agreed to help me. Probably to finally get rid of me. You see, I just barely made it happen! At least that's what I thought.

 

The big day arrived and a few loyal friends came in the morning to say farewell. While we and the packages were waiting for Paul to arrive, we raised our mugs with coffee and Grandpa's homemade Slivovic. Before coming to the United States, I had taken one bottle with me, as a reminder of my roots. Now we could finish it off, as there will be no shortage in Europe.

 

Suddenly, a guard comes running, stressing out: “what are you doing there”, “who is responsible for this”, “you can't just do that”! I explained that I had been talking to security and the fire fighters the day before. But he retorted:  "You have to talk to the suits. Don't you realize which building that is, right behind you? It's the main security office. Right there, behind these rows of tinted windows, you have at least 20 suits staring down at you, as we speak!"

 

Still, I felt the man had a sweet side to him, and I wholeheartedly explained: “It is my way of saying good-bye to my beloved New York.”

 

He then picked up his walkie talkie, and, in a dignified, celebratory voice announced to his supervisors:

"This young lady here is departing America."

 

After a while he returned, beaming with joy: "You are golden! You are officially free to do anything you want."

 

At last, Paul arrived, followed by the fire fighters. Their triumphant smiles gave away their victory over the suits. They jumped right in, helped with loading and wished me a good journey and much success in my new country over in Europe. Together with my friends, they waved good-bye. Later Zach reported to me that my undertaking was entirely clear and natural to the fire fighters. “Of course she has to do this.”

 

On the water, I then understood my friends' concerns—the East River is no joke! Besides the Atlantic's tidal waves, big currents and turbulences work against one another. In addition, the dense ship traffic causes large waves which hit you from the most undesirable angles.

 

We navigated underneath the bridges: Manhattan Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, then along the Southern tip of Manhattan, around Governor's Island, and straight towards the Statue of Liberty. I took in this grand moment of reversed migration, contemplating the fate of immigrants before me.

 

We passed Staten Island and then went around the southern shores of Bayonne, New Jersey, back North again, finally docking in Newark. Again, security wanted to give us trouble, and again luck was on my side: Paul's wife is in politics and dropping her name sufficed to give us time to unload.

 

Attached, you can see some pictures of the journey, in chronological order. Supposedly, the Dublin Express leaves Port Newark September 23rd, though delays should be expected. I'll let you know more soon, also about the contact info in Germany.

 

All my best,

Klara

 

 

 

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exhibition by Klara Hobza