Hunger and Thirst, Coke and Sausages
 

Inter­vention with three men on a balcony covered in flowers on the Wies­badener Rathaus­markt, 24th of August 2000 – 16th of September 2000.

 

On this balcony in the centre of Wies­baden, Germany, three smartly dressed men appear every day at precisely 8, 12 and 6 o’clock. They stand next to each other at the railing singing for exactly three minutes the song “Wir haben Hunger, Hunger, Hunger, haben Hunger, Hunger, Hunger, haben Hunger, Hunger, Hunger, haben Durst! Wir wollen Cola, Cola, Cola, wollen Cola, Cola, Cola, wollen Cola, Cola, Cola, wollen Wurst!” (We are hungry and thirsty, we want Coke and sausages!). On the postcard stands in the tourist hot spots, such as the spa rooms, the main station, the tourist infor­mation office, souvenir shops and hotels you can find, apart from the post­cards of famous Wies­baden tourist attrac­tions, those which show the three singing men on their flower-clad balcony. There is no other infor­mation apart from the photo itself, the lyrics of the song in German and English and the time and place. The balcony on this affluent square, right next to the town hall and the parliament of the state of Hessen, was once used to make important announce­ments. Because of the banality of the message, the theme of the announcement is reversed—instead of some­thing important, trivial things are announced. The fact that the message is repeated contin­u­ously, becoming increas­ingly annoying, makes the situ­ation absurd: three men step onto the balcony in order to ritually repeat empty announce­ments. The act of emerging and disap­pearing evokes asso­ci­a­tions with towers, muezzins, cuckoo clocks and glock­en­spiels. The three singing men create an atmos­phere which remains odd, but still estab­lishes itself at this location because of the constant repe­tition. The nursery rhyme quoted, which has been known and passed down orally for gener­a­tions, is not an official song to be found in song books. As a harmless pastiche, it does not stand for real hunger, but for appetite. In Goldberg’s version the men demand “Coke and sausages”, i.e. foods that symbolise affluent soci­eties which are char­ac­terised by an attitude of never getting enough or being full. The expression “Hunger, Hunger” which is in fact an exis­tential one, becomes a pastiche play­fully and iron­i­cally coun­ter­acting the cultured satu­ration of the global spa resort.