Rivers of Wine + Beer
Katha­rina Klara Jung

A circular exca­vation of 10m diam­eter and 45° slope, 2m deep, a shiny metal frame on two steel cross-members. Overall height 11m. White and blue floures­cent char­acters running around the frame form the text:
„RIVERS OF WINE + BEER + STREETS OF GINGER + NUTMEG + AN IDEAL TYPE OF TERRAIN + FERTILE GROUND COVER + LUXURIOUS BUILDINGS IN WHICH NO ONE BUYS OR SELLS + NOR IS THERE A CRIPPLE OR A BLIND MAN OR A CROSS-EYED MAN OR A MUTE OR A SCABIES OR ACNE SUFFERER OR A DEFORMED PERSON THERE + EVERYONE IS TOTALLY BEAUTIFUL IN ALL TREIR LIMBS + THE STRENGTH OF MEN TO SLEEP WITH THEIR WOMEN NEVER EBBS +„

Realised as part of “show me the way to public sphere!”, Wies­badener Kunst­sommer 2006

Steel cross-members, a metal frame, an exca­vation, already half over­grown. During the day, Thorsten Goldberg‘s work looks like an unfin­ished building site, a bad archi­tec­tural invest­ment in the no-man‘s land behind the station that no one has taken the trouble to remove. Only at night, when all func­tional, effi­ciency-oriented life comes to a stand­still and the land­scape of the transit area, euphemisti­cally called a „Culture Park“, between the empty car park and the sense-numbing partying of the Schlachthof succumbs to the dark­ness as if half-asleep, does the message ofthe white neon letters emerge, picked out like an appari­tion against the dark night sky.

The text running round the metal frame can only be read by twisting your neck not incon­sid­erably. A promise of that special world that has inspired the imag­i­nation of men and women for centuries as an antag­onism to the heav­enly Jerusalem. Thorsten Gold­berg promises nothing less than the creation of a land of milk and honey, a utopia of unfet­tered freedom in which chil­dren come into the world as adults and women remain virginal for ever.

This vision of this land of absolute freedom, paired with unin­hibited glut­tony and sexual permis­siveness, is a human dream which can be followed back in this form into the Middle Ages and further still. At the end ofthe 17th century, the Impe­rial General Johann Andreas Schnebelin set out to present the nature of the imag­inary Luilekker­land (Cock­aigne) in a book „in which all the vices of the waggish world, in partic­ular king­doms, estates and areas with many silly towns and cities (…) and many notions worth reading were described very clearly“* in every detail with town names and rivers. On the basis of this text, the „Accu­rata Utopiae Tabula“, the true map of paradise, appeared at the end of the 17th century. Thorsten Gold­berg has worked with this for several years. He takes the basis of his works from the ribaldly titled regions and towns with names such as Schlam­p­en­morast (slut mire), Wollust­berg (lust moun­tain) and Ampt Geil­hausen (horny­town council) and the concept of a land of unful­filled desires.
In the area next to the railway tracks, which is in a state of urban plan­ning flux, the struc­ture announces the creation of the land in which all dreams come true, the streets are paved with gold and the civil­i­sation disease of imper­ative produc­tivity turns into natural super­abun­dance. No one has to work, worry about paying his rent, count calo­ries or make any other effort. The status quo main­tains itself, a huge sensory perpetuum mobile in which idle­ness replaces progress and, ulti­mately, domi­nation by phys­ical urges takes the place of reflec­tion.

However, the metal frame is empty. Where the construc­tion sign should be, some­thing mate­rial and tangible, there is nothing but the dark sky. lt is less a projec­tion surface than a window that is created in the work. A window, the purpose of which is not what you see through it but the action of looking through it. Via wooden stairs you reach the bottom of the exca­vation, which is thickly covered with wild grasses and even sunflowers. lt is a strangely perfect exca­vation with a diam­eter of exactly 10 metres and a slope of precisely 45 degrees. Down there on the almost roman­ti­cally chaotic piece of meadow, as if punched out from some­where else and trans­planted here, the familiar envi­ronment disap­pears. The daydreams that are normally forgotten after a sigh and a dreamy look out ofthe window take on a quasi-real, phys­ical pres­ence

Down here, behind the station, is where it is to be built. The utopia emerges from the indi­vidual world of ideas and enters the hell of bureau­cracy and marketing. Deci­sions are taken, it is planned, inter­rupted and finally forgotten. A euphoric construc­tion project, the foun­da­tions of which turn out to be mean­ingless and impos­sible in the hard light of day. However, given the bright writing, like the enticing hallelujah of a sect on a recruit­ment drive, it is easy to forget the absence of content.
And all of these theo­retical consid­er­a­tions do not do justice to the feeling of standing in front of the unreal sign in the dark­ness, this mighty, irra­tional feeling of being so dose. Someone has even started, it only needs to be finished and then you just eat your way through the moun­tain of rice pudding and all your worries melt away.
Thorsten Gold­berg creates a monu­ment to longing. But the bright promise surrounds a void in front of a wild hole in the midst of the familiar lawn. The dream of the land of milk and honey is vain. A dream fed by a demand that, once fulfilled, liber­ates human beings from them­selves and then dismisses them with nothing other than a confused look of complete mean­ing­lessness into their own down­fall.

 

Trans­lation into English by Peter Bowen

* Schnebelin, Johann Andreas: „Erklärung der Wunder=seltzamen Land = Charten Utopiae, so da ist/ das neu = entdeckte Schlaraffenland/ Worinnen All und jede Laster der schal­ck­hafftigen Welt/ als beson­dere Königreiche/ Herrschaften und Gebiete/ mit vielen läppis­chen Städten/ Festungen/ Flecken und Dorffern/ Flüssen/ Bergen/ Seen/ Insuln/ Meer und Meer = Busen/ wie nicht weniger Dieser Nationen Sitten/ Regiment/ Gewerbe/ samt vielen leßwürdigen Einfällen aufs deut­lichste beschrieben; Allen thör­rechten Läster = Freunden zum Spott/ denen Tugend liebenden zur Warnung/ und denen melan­cholischen Gemüthern zu einer ehrlichen Erget­zung vorgestellet. Gedruckt zu Arbeitshausen/ in der Graffschafft Fleissig/ in diesem Jahr da Schlar­raf­fenland entdecket ist“, end of the 17th century.