Meet Verena and Stefan – Boathunters from Guatemala
Today I’m glad I can present you a very interesting couple, Verena and Stephan, whom I met in Rio Dulce in January 2016 when I was working on Magico. We got to know each other through boat listing website as they were about about to buy and boat and coincidentaly Magico was for sale. The video above is quite funny but also shows the other side of the coin. I mean how challenging it may be to choose the right toy! Beside talking boating stuff for hours we drank also couple of beers and gins in Sun Dog bar where I interviewed them. It’s interesting how quickly you can become friends sometimes!
So, who are you guys? What are your projects about?
We were doing art projects in empty standings, mostly historical buildings like castles, hotels or other big buildings all over Europe. We worked and lived at site for half a year, chose a theme, told and inspired by the building and it’s history and prepared an exhibition especially for that site. We researched about the history, interviewed the locals and worked out a tour through the building with every room representing a new part of the main theme. We installed video projections, sounds, light effects into these rooms and painted paintings also interpreting the subject. After all work was done we promoted the exhibition and opened the site mostly for the first time after a deep sleep for the public.
What is the most interesting art project your have realized and are proud of?
Every project had its own charme. And we always looked for contrasts. After beeing totally remote in an mediaval castle in the forests, we went in a running hospital in a city. It was always a new and unknown experience, getting to know the history and the envolved people and a learning of different historical, religious or political points of view. The biggest challenge was surely in 2013 where we worked out an exhibition in a huge castle with 13 buildings and had an audiance of some thousends of guests.
Did any project ended up as disaster?
We made the deal for a project in an huge classical villa with a private person. Everything seems to run smoothly, we also organized some preliminary events with other artist like musicians and actors but after 3 months our so called owner of the building just disapeared and gas, electrical bills needed to be paid …
I see you live in a van since you met. What do you see as the biggest disadvatage of living in a van?
We mostly saw the big advantages of beeing flexible and free of home bound. We found a lot of dream spots where you can jump in the sea when you open the door and beeing all alone dreaming into the sunset. What we couldn‘t have was a dog because of our unsteady life. When we did the projects we usually slept also in our studio. And the winters where a bit unconfortable, therefore we prefered to spent the wintertime in Spain or Portugal in the last years.
So I guess you decided to exchange van for a sailboat in Belize because it was getting exceptionally cold the last winter in Europe? 🙂
Well, kind of yes :). We were looking for a new challenge like always after a project was done and there was suddenly this chance of getting to know the jungle. We could not say No. The idea of the sailboat only came later, when we got the chance to take care of this island in Belize. But we felt stuck and limited in our freedom without any vehicle, so we looked for a boat to get from and to the caye.
How was the buying process going? All went smooth?
When we are buying something it’s always difficult, because what we are looking for most of the times does not exist because it is so specific. Our Caye is surrounded of very shallow waters and to dock with a sailboat it need a keel which is not deep. Usualy a sailboat has a keel for not to capsizing and the longer the better. Therefore we looked for a boat with a shallow draft. And some headroom because we are not tiny people. And we found her in Rio Dulce. Our SOULSISTER. But the owner was a local. And we had not made business with a guatemaltecian before. Now we know why. But after 3 month waiting we came along with him and finaly got all necessary papers and went straight back to our little island.
So you got it, fixed it and sailed it from Guatemala to Belize. How was the trip?
When we think about this first trip now that we have a little more experience of sailing: It was just a little blueeyed but we arrived and learned a lot. But this was always our motto. Education and learning is only effective if you have something in your hand, you can smell feel or taste. Theory and reading is not wrong but learning by doing is the uttermost learning experience.
What’s your plan in Belize? You live now on a beautifull key in paradise and have sailboat tied up at the dock. How do you see you close future?
We love to live in the moment and at the moment we love to live on our island, beeing free and alone and maintaining the facilities and repairing the legacy of Hurricane Earl and making Soulsister as confortable as we need her.
And the last question, how did you survive the hurricane Earl that hit the shores of Belize last year?
Yes, the hurricane experience was new to us. It felt like the longest day in our lifes and it was an extreme feeling to tie up the boat and awaiting the storm which was announced for the night. We felt a bit like in our childhood waiting for christmas eve to come. Then it went all very quick and the next morning when we came out to the island and saw all the destruction and could feel the power of nature which came over the caye we experienced the second very strange feeling. The next weeks the scenery always came alive again with every little wind we could hear houling.
ABOUT: STEPHAN and VERENA
They introduce themselves just by the first names STEPHANundVERENA. Hailing from Germany, they have been travelling in the name of the art through Europe for over 20 years now. While studying at university, STEPHANundVERENA met each other and began to coorganize their own art exhibitions. In the beginning, the artist couple showed only paintings and graphics, until they realized that their audience wanted more … more with which they could identify. For this reason, the two artists began to create unique environments with materials fitting the theme of each installation, leading, in a didactical manner, to the point of the exhibition. For more details you may want to check out: