Birgit Schuh, Schokofluss (Chocolate River), Dresden, 2011.

“Schokofluss” (Chocolate River) was created as part of an artistic project launched in 2010 by the artists Anke Binnewerg and Birgit Schuh. It was installed in Plauenschen Grund, the valley of the Weißeritz river, lined with stone cliffs, which opens out into the Elbe valley basin near the former fishing and rafting village of Plauen, southwest of Dresden. In the 18th century, this valley was the setting for magnificent courtly celebrations and later became a place which inspired many romantic painters. However, during the construction of the Dresden-Chemnitz railway line, completed in 1869, the valley floor was transformed into an industrial area and its interesting artistic and social history was all but forgotten.

 Since 2008, artists have sought to revive this forgotten past, retelling it in order to keep the collective memory of it alive. The “Schokofluss” installation consisted of square concrete blocks, painted a glossy brown colour and placed in a drainage ditch that ran diagonally across the footpath leading to the valley. This installation was a poetic reminder of the once flourishing chocolate industry in Dresden-Plauen in the 19th century and gave the place a surprising aura. However, as part of a busy pedestrian and cycle path, it could not and was never intended to be of a permanent nature. The varnish on the stones eventually wore off and in 2016 the blocks were completely removed during building work. The artist’s wry comments, still visible on a plaque at the site, read: ‘Birgit Schuh’s chocolate river had been flowing into the gutter near the farm’s mill since 2011 and was losing its shape. In 2016, it dried up completely.

Hans-Georg Lippert