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.