artistic research + book, 40 pages, 21X21cm
with a text by Teo Lagos
Paradise, Garden of Eden, cennet, firdaws or jannah. The place, where everything started with Adam and Eva, and the place, where after death only the believers are allowed to go. The place of delight, blessing, wealth and infinity.
With regard to discussions about how the paradise could look, art in the middle ages had its own conception of paradise. For example, in Cranach's Adam and Eva in Garden of Eden or Maria in Garden of Paradise, the paradise was painted as a place with a lot of trees, fruits, animals and naked people.
In Quran the paradise (cennet) is the afterworld, where only the practicing Muslims are accepted. Those who turn to God and faith in this life will be able to enter into the two gardens of paradise in the afterlife. Four rivers flow there: the first one flows with water, the second with milk, the third with wine and the fourth with honey. The gardens of delight, which should especially be very attractive for men thanks to the virgins of paradise (huris), are described in the Quran in detail.
Whether in this life paradise could exist - and if so, what it would look like - are not easy questions to answer. The paradise of this world is subjective and defined rather more abstractly. The paradise can be a beach on the Mediterranean Sea or a small cabin on the Swiss Alps. For some people, the paradise is there where you feel yourself at home. In every day language, the word ìparadiseî is often used to express the beauty of a place in an exaggerated way. It means more than wonderful or splendid, it mostly indicates an expectation of something magical and fantastic and refers to a discovery and an astonishment. Maybe it is this dubious search that makes the paradise so attractive as a "fantastic" place. Some sort of paradises are discovered, invented or shaped in order to create an "other space" (Heterotopia) which exits parallel to time and place and functions according to its own rules.
In the Berlin of this world, you surprisingly stumble over many paradises. The paradises are signifying the shops which are literally named as "paradise" or "oasis". In such a way, the paradise moves over from a world of images into the center of real life and therefore, it should be examined in this social and urban context. Accordingly, the initial question of my artistic research was: Why are there so many shops in Berlin which are named as ìparadiseî or ìoasisî? These are big shops, small shops, all over Berlin. Some of them are certified specialists and some of them are more general, Allesverkaeufer. A wide and diverse assortment of goods are offered ranging from toys to dog food, from washing machines to carpets. Diverse is not only the assortment but also the origins of the shop owners: A mixture of Turks, Germans, Arabs and Vietnamese people. Nonetheless, one thing is clear: Urban paradises and oases have a very concrete and common purpose, that is, to sell. Does this implicitly mean that the names "paradise" or "oasis" function as empty signifiers for attracting more customers? Can someone actually manage a paradise? What happens, if the paradise becomes the every day life? Is the paradise a place in the afterworld or a pit stop on our weekly shopping tour? Is the oasis a place of fortune which we are glad to run into by accident or just a shop window in our neighbourhood?