Foto: Jochen Steinig
Milk & Honey
 

A large scale slide in a light box, 230 x 180 x 12 cm, at the Berlin S-Bahn station Unter den Linden, as part of the “trans­portale”, April – May 2003.

The illu­mi­nated slide shows a picture of a historical map, the “Accurata Utopia Tabula”, with a complete legend of the nearly 2,000 ficti­tious place names, provinces, rivers, lakes and moun­tains. In addition to the infor­mation boards and maps that the passengers need, panels have been put up in the Unter den Linden S-Bahn station showing historical views of Berlin, important events in the city’s history and time-honoured busi­nesses. In terms of urban devel­opment, Pariser Platz in front of the Bran­denburg Gate is one of the most remarkable of all Berlin’s squares. It was laid out in 1734 and is today home to embassies, banks and insurance companies as well as the Hotel Adlon, Tuchers Restaurant, Star­bucks Coffee, Bugatti and KPM. And right in the centre of this arrangement, in a light box, is the historical map as a large-scale slide with a complete legend. The „Accurata Utopia Tabula” was created by the German cartog­rapher Johann Baptist Homann (1664–1724). It puts the travel account “Erklärung der Wunder­seltzamen Land-Charten UTOPIÆ” (Expla­nation of the wonderful and strange map of UTOPIA) by the imperial general Andreas Schnebelin into a scien­tific context, since it maps out longed-for places and depicts with great accuracy an area of the utopian world consisting of 17 provinces and several groups of islands. In his 1494 work, Sebastian Brants described the Land of Milk and Honey as a parody of paradise. It portrays the vision of a life of unlimited desire. The imag­inary place names tell of full­bellied pros­perity and bizarre abun­dance, but also bear witness to a life constantly threatened by penury. In the middle of the continent is the land where gold coins can be found in the street, beau­tiful clothes grow on trees and noone needs to work because every­thing produces itself. This place in a topsy­turvy world is still important today as a foil to the daily life we all expe­rience. Embedded as it is, in actual history Milch & Honig does not, however, at first glance, appear to be a work of art: after chancing upon the map and its subject, passers-by may subtly find out about the position of Pariser Platz as a place of great luxury and a reflection of today’s ideals.