Broken Dreams No.1 – by Liina Klauss

Liina Klauss

‘Broken Dreams No.1’ by Liina Klauss

‘Broken Dreams No.1’ consists of 518 broken-down pieces of plastic and natural matter organised into a square of 40 x 40 cm and coordinated by shape, colour and luminosity. The smallest piece is a plastic pellet measuring 2mm and the largest a butterfly wing measuring 5cm. All pieces were collected on the shores of the South-China Sea over a period of one year. They are used in the original way they were found, nothing is manipulated neither in colour nor in size.

The one question Liina Klauss asks herself, again and again, is: Why is everyone looking away? By making ugliness look beautiful she catches everyone’s attention. “Don’t you perceive this colour-coordinated mosaic of waste as beautiful?” In stark contrast, a single piece of waste by itself is perceived as ugly, dirty and worthless. ‘Broken Dreams No.1’ explores the perception of value and waste. The objects intrinsically stay the same, but the perception of their worth, beauty and belonging changes depending on context, location and integration into a bigger picture. Cultural conventions get distorted with value and worthlessness, beauty and ugliness, innocence and ignorance mixing and becoming inseparable. Is it still waste or is it already art? When exactly does it become beautiful? How much is it worth now? Was it worthless before?

Growing up in the 1980s the artist remembers pristine beaches in Italy, clear blue water, playing with shells and seaweed. 30 years later my children are growing up in Hong Kong and Bali and both the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean are polluted with plastic debris. The situation has dramatically changed with world plastics production totalling around 322 million metric tons in 2015 from 50 million metric tons in 1976 (


Liina Klauss The photo above shows the artist’s studio and work in progress.

On a material level, humans have succeeded to realise all of their dreams. Plastic is the material that these dreams are made out of: plastic can be melted into any thinkable shape, any imaginable texture, any conceivable colour and into any desired size and quantity. With plastics, humans have created an avalanche of material beauty. Are we happy now? The dream breaks again and again. And so we keep on shifting our attention, our desire, our value from one thing to the next without ever being satisfied.   

Is it worth it? It is in our hands, or I would rather say in our heads to choose responsibly.

Liina Klauss

Photo above shows  art-awareness-activists at Pankor Island Festival, Malaysia, 2014

The best way to grasp the full scale of Liina’s work is to physically participate in the making of an artwork. Because of the scale of her installations, she inspires people of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the art-making process. Community, creation and outdoors triggering the transformation. The artist seeks to not merely to change the outer landscape but to touch an inner landscape, one that resonates with all senses and leaves the participant connected and pure in the present moment. Here is a short time-lapse video of  ‘River of Rubbish’ 

Liina Klauss

Photo above shows ‘River of Rubbish’, collaboration with Plastic Free Seas, Hong Kong, 2014

Liina Klauss has realised several environmental art and community projects in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and Portugal. Her installations have been part of festivals (Clockenflap, Hong Kong’s Ocean Art Walk) and conferences (Ocean Recovery Alliance’s Plasticity Forum, HSBC’s Environmental Program, Plastic Free Seas Youth Conference). She collaborates with various schools, universities and corporates facilitating art-awareness-activism projects which include tracing-waste workshops and curating-the-beach outings. She is a regular participant at Microgalleries and had her first solo exhibition in Hong Kong in 2013. At present she inspires and is being inspired as an artist in residence at Bali Green school.

Workshops for The Universal Sea:

(1) ‘Waste to Value’

Liina Klauss

She says: “My collection of micro-plastics consists of more than 200 little boxes measuring 10cm x 20cm. Within these boxes are small pieces of plastic and natural matter all sorted by colour, luminosity and size. I’ve been collecting these art materials since 2012 mainly on the shores of South Lantau Island in Hong Kong. Fewer pieces originate from Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Portugal. All of these colours and shapes are waiting to be transformed into art! Following the aesthetics of ‘Broken Dreams No.1’ I would love to develop more art-works with you as the artists!”

(2) ’Tracing Waste’

This workshop combines realistic drawing and creative writing: “We will trace back one specimen of the marine litter objects to its origins. As a first step, we draw the specimen from all angles, recording damage, weathering, signs of manufacturing, or any other finds that can lead to the provenance of the object. Like archaeologists, we collect data. Later we combine these facts with fiction. The result will be a coherent narrative of how a piece of marine litter can end up in our oceans.”

The artist has been conducting this workshop with children as small as primary all the way up to university students. It is an effective and fun way to make us think about the life-cycle of products and natural materials and creatively answers the all-pervasive question: “Why is there so much trash in our oceans?”

(3) ’Curating-the-Beach’

Liina Klauss

Photo above shows students from Singapore Int. School on Lamma Island, Hong Kong, 2014

In ‘Curating-the-Beach’  she invites participants to look at their environment as if it were an art gallery. The findings on a beach range from shells to ghost-nets to driftwood to plastic. Everything is art material, no discrimination made. This workshop can be conducted with a minimum of 10 and maximum of 50 participants. It can happen on a beach, on the side of a road, a river or a dump. Wherever we find ourselves, be it sand, concrete, grass or wasteland it will be our gallery. Whatever we find, marine litter, rocks, flowers, plastic bottles, all will be our art material. Trash is ubiquitous. And art should be ubiquitous, too!

Liina Klauss was born in 1974 in Germany. She studied Fashion-Design at Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weissensee. After her diploma, she worked for fashion brands like Sai-So in Berlin and Jurgen Lehl in Tokyo. Moving to Hong Kong in 2007 and experiencing the down-sides of mass-production in China made her leave the design-field and seek her expression in art. Lost objects within the natural environment are the starting point for her art. In 2011 Liina started to make environmental installations on beaches using the marine litter. Today Liina creates everything from delicate mosaics to large-scale land-art.

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